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Becoming business execs for one day

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Submitted by on Wed 21/06/17 12:52

Close to forty Year 9 to 12 business students from Brisbane Adventist College gained an insight into the executive experience on Monday when they took part in the BAC2Business conference held in the College Student Centre.

Run in the same vein as a business conference, the students learnt about the changing nature of work and the world of the business professional. A teamwork challenge framed some key messages of the day. Utilising innovation and interpersonal skills, competing groups were tasked with building the tallest structure within an 18 minute timeframe. Equipment included 20 sticks of spaghetti, 100 cm sticky tape, 100 cm string, one marshmallow, and one pair of scissors.

The only rules were that the structure must be freestanding, and the marshmallow must be on top. Brody (Year 12), Mason (Year 11), Mikayla (Year 11), Mariah (Year 10) formed the winning team with a 59 cm tower.

 
 
Students also heard from guest speakers and engaged in panel discussions with current business leaders from Sanitarium, BDO, HealthConsult, St Vincent de Paul Society Qld, and PwC. College alumni David Abel (Sanitarium Head of Business Advisory), and Emily Low (PwC Corporate Tax Manager) gave the budding executives a tangible insight into the future as they spoke about issues ranging from teamwork and good leadership, to statutory interpretation and a good work ethic.
 
In response to a student question about personal (or ‘soft’) skills required for business, Internal Audit Manager of St Vincent de Paul Society Qld Vivek Chopra responded: “Imagination is a very good soft skill… thinking quick, taking the info you need and working out how you need to act.”
 
When another student asked how the panelists react when faced with moral ambiguity in the workplace, Dr Abby Kamalakahthan (Associate Director of HealthConsult and published author and commentator on some of Australia’s most significant health issues) talked about how every hospital and health client has their own agenda. “When it comes to research and consulting, I have to balance these with my own values… A good consultant will push back if they have problems with this. There must be a line you’re not willing to cross.”
 
 
In advice about career choice in a rapidly changing jobs landscape, BDO Executive Director Darren Stacey suggested: “Don’t think about job titles. Think more about what skills and aptitudes you have and what fields you are interested in as opposed to specific jobs. Go talk to people in the field. Make connections with people who can help you along.”
 
A model for how Brisbane Adventist College is engaged in creating better teaching and learning experiences that equip students for future careers, the BAC2Business convention provided students with a bigger picture. “This is a real world view, not cloaked in content — and much more than a discreet set of skills,” says Head of Business Philip Mead. 
 
“The most interesting thing I learnt today was how big things like attitude and behaviour play in the business side of things,” wrote one student in anonymous feedback not long before the conference tables were packed away and the teenagers transformed once more from budding business executives back into students.
 
PHOTOS: Following the keynote speeches and panel discussion, students reflected on lessons learned. One of the questions asked was: If you could work anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Students were also asked to give negative and positive feedback.

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