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Mobility students put knowledge into practice at renowned companies in Bangkok

13 Mar 2017

Article by Shon Ho and Lydia Bilton, Australia – ASEAN Council interns at Australian Embassy, Thailand

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Since 2014, the New Colombo Plan (NCP) has been consolidating relations in the Indo-Pacific region by providing undergraduate Australian students with financial assistance to study and intern abroad. Melbourne University’s Global Management Consulting program based in Bangkok is one of the programs supported by the NCP Mobility Grants.

Living and working abroad may be a daunting prospect, but for students from the University of Melbourne the opportunity to gain industry experience in an international setting via work-integrated learning has broadened perspectives beyond the classroom.

Twenty students from the University of Melbourne travelled to Thailand in January to participate in a two-week Global Management Consulting program, ten of whom were recipients of mobility grants from the Australian Government under the NCP.

The Global Management Consulting program enables Melbourne University students to refine their business management and advisory skills via work-integrated learning.

The students were split into teams and sent to five different companies based in Bangkok. Assuming the role of business consultants, they were expected to provide solutions and give advice on a specific brief.

The students were accompanied by Dr Joeri Mol from the Department of Management and Marketing at the University of Melbourne.

“It’s is a very intensive project,” said Dr Mol “It’s really about making the students work ready.”

“The most natural way for countries to interact is through trade and business, and this program is a natural exponent of this.”

Aside from strengthening international business ties, Dr Mol believes that the program in Thailand offers unique perspectives which can foster personal and professional growth, especially since it focuses on work-integrated learning.

Such has been the case for student Jake Argana, who participated in the program at Grant Thornton, an international consultancy firm.

“Sometimes living in Bangkok can be pretty overwhelming, it’s very different from living in Australia - a lot of people, traffic jams, a lot of heat. But once you adapt to that, you start enjoying it. I like finding friends from different cultures, there’s a great night life too- there’s always something to do.”

Jake said that the consultancy project was challenging but rewarding.

“Once you see your project going somewhere and how you can help [the company], you know you’re having an impact.”

Evonne Hu, who undertook an internship with Jake at Grant Thornton, saw the opportunity as a way of gaining global insight and cultural awareness.

“The world’s becoming interesting as more countries are become increasingly connected, so I wanted to step outside Melbourne and into another country to see what there is to learn”, she said.

“At the moment, ASEAN is growing rapidly in this world and I think Thailand has the most potential for future growth. I would recommend Thailand to future students because it’s in such a good place, [in terms of] where it’s located within the ASEAN community and in Asia.”

“What I’ve found is that we’ve learned a lot about professional skills” said Winnie Jiao, another team member.

“At uni it’s about going to lectures and completing assignments, but here it’s how you socialise with people in a professional way and how you interact with them to develop business results.”

Aekarak Sethi, responsible for Business Development, Sales and Process Excellence, who supervised the students at Grant Thornton said that the program provides meaningful exposure and practical insight of the market, which are vital to a successful business career.

“We once had an intern from the University of Melbourne who was with us for a while and later joined us as a full-time employee before she went back for further education.”

“It’s very important to recognize, embrace and sustain international relations because as a leading global advisory firm, we understand that there’s a constant mobility and exchange of resources, knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA).”

“We’re grateful that we have this opportunity to have students come over from Australia and we very much look forward to continuing this relation as well.”

ABM Connect, a Bangkok-based public relations firm also hosted students from Melbourne University. Steve Vincent, ABM’s Managing Director has, like Aek, found the Global Management Consulting program to be mutually beneficial for students and his company.

“We’ve been involved in this program for eight years… and we’ve implemented every project,” said Steve.

“5 years ago we looked at our entire accounting system which was largely manual, and asked that group of students to recommended an automated solution. [The students] then came up with a solution which, I estimate, has saved my company about 20 million baht ($750, 000 AUS dollars) over 5 years.”

“We find the quality of what’s delivered, the advice and the recommendations very good.”

Bianca Strebl who took part in the program at ABM Connect, was one of the ten students who received a mobility grant through the NCP.

“I’d just like to say a big thank you. The support from the grant was really helpful and it took a weight of my shoulders” she said.

“I think every city and every country that you work in gives you a competitive edge when it comes to business, and a different approach when dealing with people, so this experience has definitely helped me a lot in that regard.”

“I hope to see myself working internationally when I finish university.”

 

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