There’s no better way to learn than by doing, as one Torrens MBA student recently discovered.
Ian McFarlane grew up in Central Queensland and spent his twenties in Dubai, but relocated to Brisbane not long ago. Although his life has been rich with diverse experiences, he decided after coming back to Australia that his career in business was becoming too narrow.
He enrolled in an MBA at Torrens, recognising that if he wanted to branch out, he would need some broad business skills that can be applied to a variety of roles.
“I have considered studying an MBA for many years. My existing qualifications are somewhat industry specific; the general business knowledge provided in the MBA program was ideal for my career development. The degree effectively broadened my practical business skills while also consolidating my existing knowledge.” – Ian McFarlane
Ian has just completed his course, and will graduate within the next month!
In order to do that, every MBA student at Torrens is required to design and complete a ‘Capstone Project’. This project is the culmination of all you’ve learned through your course, and it’s a huge moment in a student’s journey.
It’s your chance to take the course content you’ve learned and apply it to a real world situation, where the outcome will affect people’s lives.
Ian decided he wanted to use the capstone project as an opportunity to do something positive for society.
“The business capstone case study was part of a larger and ongoing project by West Adelaide Councils. The project is called Leveraging the Ageing Well & Disability business opportunities project.
My case study specifically explored UnitingSA West Lakes, which is a commercial and residential facility created primarily for aged care consumers. The case study focused on the industry collaboration between UnitingSA, City of Charles Sturt and Commercial & General that contributed to the development of this facility.”
Ian’s project was an evaluation of the collaboration process between the three different organisations involved in the project. He was trying to understand whether collaboration led to better or worse outcomes for consumers.
“The UnitingSA West Lakes facility was special because there were three different organisations, from unrelated industries, that all contributed to Uniting SA West Lakes being a success. Each organisation brought a different and unique skill set to the table that would unlikely be achieved independently. My case study focused on how the three organisations collaborated.
Despite the three organisations being from unrelated industries, there were aligned organisational interests and common goals. This cross-sector partnership strengthened the project while also allowing for the three organisations to achieve their respective economic and social goals”
His first role in this project was to interview stakeholders and collect information.
Managing different stakeholders isn’t always easy, as Ian discovered. There were some challenging moments, and he had to develop a few strategies to get everyone on the same page.
He participated in workshops and brainstormed with the participants to find common ground with his stakeholders.
“Having several project stakeholders meant that there were various strategic approaches and expectations, and this could be challenging. In order to ensure consensus among stakeholders, I decided to develop and distribute project summaries.
This effectively aligned stakeholders, and provided opportunity for constructive feedback.”
Then, Ian had to conduct a review of the collaboration process. Through this, he discovered some positive results.
“After analysing the information, it was evident that the collaboration was successful and mutually beneficial. This report successfully demonstrated how industry collaboration can lead to commercial and social progression opportunities; thereby creating a positive outcome for consumers and businesses.”
Ian’s capstone project helped the developers of the aged care facility to understand how they can best serve their users.
But, it was also just one piece of a larger puzzle. Ian’s work contributes to a broader policy platform, outlined in the “Western Adelaide Health, Ageing Well and Disability Sector Development Framework,” that will benefit the region in years to come.
“The findings of this case study will provide West Adelaide Councils with information that will support economic and social development in the local region.”
It’s important that while completing the capstone project, students receive as much help as they need to get their best results.
During the process, Ian received support and assistance from his Torrens subject facilitator, Dr. Rowan Machaka.
“The subject facilitator, Dr Machaka, provided clear guidance and was extremely supportive to students. Our facilitator was often available for individual consultations.
I found this particularly useful, as this allowed me to seamlessly soundboard various project ideas while continuing on project deliverables. At times I also sought advice from Torren’s librarians and previous subject facilitators. I always found support when it was needed.” – Ian
Everything he was learning in his MBA supported the learning in his initiative.
“As a result of the case study, I developed a thorough understanding of organisational collaboration. While this case study was specific… the collaborative principles learned are transferrable knowledge that could be applied to a wide range of business situations.
I encountered several challenges during this case study. However, I was able to successfully resolve matters by applying emotional intelligence and utilising skills that I had developed throughout the Master of Business Administration course.
My increased knowledge and sense of empowerment as a direct result of this course is invaluable.”
Congratulations, Ian, on the successful completion of your capstone project, and MBA. No doubt, you’ll go far in your career!
So, what’s next for Ian’s future?
“The average person will change careers several times throughout their life. Therefore, the MBA qualification is a strategic investment in my career.
My professional experience is in financial services and the aviation industry; the MBA qualification is immediately relevant to my role now. But, it’s also readying me for whatever future management opportunities come along.”
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