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Real Business : 2013 Issue 1
CPA Big BreAk winners journal articles. But the thing that’s been drilled into us in the case study competition team is that you can get stats, you can get information, but unless you have an insight into it, it’s worth nothing. so we did all this research, then we sat down and went, ‘Right, what does that actually mean?’.” senior and Robertson identified four key issues: reducing costs; increasing revenue; improving online brand identity; and reducing donor defection. “Donor defection is one of the biggest issues facing charities around the world,” Robertson says. “One stat we presented was that if Make-A -Wish could reduce donor defection by 5 per cent, they could potentially increase revenue by 25 to 85 per cent. That put it in perspective.” On the back of their sWOT presentation, they were selected to represent Queensland at the national finals. The next challenge was to develop a sustainable funding model for Make-A -Wish. They had four weeks – in theory. in reality, they had a number of commitments to juggle and were rarely in the same place. “We basically organised our plan by skype,” senior says. The pair drilled down through the research and emerged with five drivers for giving. Using this framework , they developed the five strategies that made such an impression on The CPA Big Break Project judges. For starters, they recommended consolidating all existing online social media campaigns into a single national site, staffed by e-volunteers. Powerful partnerships Then they proposed establishing a crowdfunding portal, allowing donors to make small contributions of money, time or other resources in direct support of a particular wish. Finding a strategy to reduce wish-related expenses was also a focus, particularly Set up in 1980 in the US, the Make-A -Wish Foundation has made dreams come true for more than 270,000 children with life-threatening diseases. In Australia and New Zealand, the charity has brought smiles to the faces of more than 7000 children by granting wishes from meeting Justin Bieber to spending a day as a firefighter. But now, in Australia, the foundation is facing tougher days – and that’s where The CPA Big Break Project and the clever young minds it attracts have been able to help. As one of the organisers of the QUT Business School competition team, Andrew Paltridge encourages stand-out undergrads to enter competitions in which students are challenged to test their emerging skills on real-life business cases. He commends The CPA Big Break Project for its social conscience. “Each competition is designed to bring out a different set of skills,” Paltridge says. “Not just the finance, marketing or strategy skills needed to handle a particular problem, but the ones that really make a difference for a graduate such as problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, communication and confidence. “These students have to be able to tackle a real business question, find a solution in a limited period of time and be able to develop and communicate a plan to a group of business professionals. “Imagine how great and how personally fulfilling it would be for Sam and James, and for us here, if any of their winning ideas are implemented and they have the chance to see that something they’d created had made a difference to heaps and heaps of kids. They’ll know they’ve made a serious difference.” A chance to make a real difference 16 REAL BUSINESS issUe 1, 2013 SOME UNDERGRADS PL AY touch footy. some have a passion for travel. sam senior and James Robertson of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Business school in Brisbane are a bit different. As members of the QUT Business school competition squad, they spend what senior describes as “r idiculous amounts of time” using their developing skills to solve the real-world problems posed in case study competitions around the globe. in short: they’re addicted to problem-solving. This time, the problem was big. Every year The CPA Big Break Project selects as its case study a not-for-profit organisation facing a real-world challenge. in 2012, the subject was the Make-A -Wish Foundation in Australia and New Zealand. For years the foundation has brought magic to the lives of seriously ill children and their families by granting wishes – anything from a new fish tank to a family holiday. But for the Australian arm, the magic is on hold for now. There is a freeze on new wish requests until the charity’s financial issues are resolved. Total teamwork senior and Robertson were veterans of numerous competitions by the time The CPA Big Break Project for 2012 was launched, but they hadn’t worked as a team. senior will complete a double degree in iT and business at the end of this year and Robertson has just months to go in an accelerated business degree. The CPA Big Break Project was an opportunity to apply their expertise to a worthy cause and to see what they could produce as partners. “We share some common qualities,” Robertson says. “We’re both quite driven and ambitious. But in terms of our specialised disciplines, i feel we really complement each other. sam brings an understanding of software development and engineering and i bring a marketing and finance perspective.” in Round One, entrants were asked to submit an analysis of the foundation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. “ We did a lot of research,” senior says. “i think we must have read up to 100
Issue 3 2012