Real-Life experience doing business in Asia

Re-post of article written in AFR, 14 April 2016


Varun Wijewardane’s MBA project took him from the Melbourne Business School (MBS) campus to Beijing and Shanghai, where he worked with other students and Ernst and Young on the logistics of digital business in China.

The project was part of a core set of units looking at doing business in Asia that Wijewardane says has been a highlight of his MBA.

It is one of several industry-focused programs within the school, which has partnerships with 40 businesses in Asia, Europe and America.

“We were engaged over four to five months to develop a strategy ideas on market entry or product development into China,” he says.

“It is one of the core selling points I think of the MBS, given its strong Asian focus.”

His particular global client already had a presence in China, but was struggling to penetrate digital markets.

“What they are finding is that they are falling short of some of their competition and in China the uptake of digital technology is much faster than in Australia,” Wijewardane says.

“They came to us looking for a digital road map that was a bit left of centre to see what they can do to get ahead.”

The students met with EY and the client over several months in Melbourne before heading to China and exploring how the proposed strategy would work in practice.

“That was a way to test the hypothesis we developed in Melbourne to see how it stood up in China and to validate anything was part of our recommendations,” he says.

EY innovation partner Gerald Marion says the firm provided mentoring and advice for the students as they developed their proposals, as well as support from EY’s China offices.

“Innovating through an ecosystem and across borders is critically important for our clients, EY and university graduates,” he says.

“The program allows us to reinforce the collaboration between industry and universities in a meaningful and practical way.”

Wijewardane says it was a valuable experience.

“Market research is something everyone has heard of and knows what it is about but it becomes very different when you have to go and take on the challenge of doing it. It really takes your classroom learning and forces you to apply it — that’s where you get the value,” he says.

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