Is business for you? (And what to look for in a degree)
Future-proof. Flexible. Practical. Ethical. Global. They’re the buzzwords of the business world at a time like no other.
“We are living in a dynamic and complex world where nothing is permanent, where everything is constantly changing,” says Dr Bhavani Sridharan, ACU’s Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching and Accreditation.
“In this environment, graduates who want to pursue a career in business need resilience and adaptability, they need creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving, all these uniquely human skills that are so highly valued.”
So what makes ACU’s Peter Faber Business School so adept at producing university graduates with these sought-after skills?
“Our modern, practical approach to learning and teaching produces ethical graduates with well-rounded human skills, and they also develop business acumen and finely-tuned professional and technical skills,” Dr Sridharan says.
The Peter Faber Business School includes Microsoft certification in its array of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, cloud skills and cloud data services are wired into ACU’s business and commerce degrees, giving graduates a competitive edge in the jobs market.
“On top of that, we give our students a global outlook by developing their intercultural competencies in real-world situations. We give them the ability to be inclusive and creative in their thinking, with aptitudes that are developed holistically, so they are confident, ready for the world, and ready to be hired.”
We sat down with Dr Sridharan to discuss the bold new world of business, and ACU’s global, ethical and practical Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Many students know they want a career in business, but they’re not exactly sure what area they want to pursue. What would your advice be to these students?
“Well, the first thing I’d mention is that our Business Foundation Program assists all new students by providing a solid foundation of business skills, and that really allows you to identify your interests and nuances before you choose your specialisation.
The Bachelor of Business Administration is a flexible generalist degree that gives students an expansive industry view covering a wide range of professions. This will provide you with a range of career-ready and future-ready skills that will prepare you to pursue a nuanced career path.
Our Bachelor of Commerce retains some of that flexibility, but it will also allow you to take a deeper dive into your interests. So, if you are interested in finance, or passionate about marketing, you can explore these areas with a closer focus.
With both options, you’ll be exposed to career-focused course design, and that will allow you the flexibility to pursue your interests as they develop through the course. You’ll be exposed to accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, information technology and even management, and you’re not bound to anything until you make up your mind about the career path you want to take.”
What are some of the things that give ACU commerce students a global and ethical outlook, and the practical skills to give them a competitive edge?
“Our school, the Peter Faber Business School, has a mission of providing business education that is global, ethical and practical. Staying true to that mission, we have introduced intercultural competency modules in our first-year courses, which allows students to pocket a range of cross-cultural and career-ready skills, and we provide them with many real-life opportunities to apply these skills.
For example, we introduced the Global Virtual Intercultural Program, where ACU Business students collaborate with students at our partner universities, such as in the United States, in a Shark Tank-style competition. This gives them an opportunity to collaborate and present innovative start-up ideas, helping them to develop a global mindset and to apply their skills a real-life context, in a way that is sensitive to cultural differences and differences in value systems.
We embed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) authentically across all our programs, including the impact of supply chains on the environment, and human rights through modern slavery. Students are change-makers through their participation in the Global Social Innovation Challenge to address global problems, and UNSDGs. Our students are making an impact at local, national and global levels for a more sustainable world.
And in terms of the practical element, we have a strong focus on those technical and professional skills – developing business acumen, formulating strategy and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset – but also communication skills, teamwork skills, negotiation skills, conflict resolution skills…
And as students develop a deeper understanding and build on the specialised knowledge they have acquired, they have access to industry partners, so they have the opportunity to apply those skills while engaging with real-life clients to solve real-world problems.”
Many students prefer interactive workshop-style learning rather than the old way of ‘chalk-and talk’. What can they expect at the Peter Faber Business School?
“Our focus is on providing students with opportunities for interactive learning, where material is provided online before a class so the students can come to the class prepared to engage and ask questions and be fully involved in both peer-to-peer and peer-to-teacher interaction, in a workshop-style learning environment.
Another important element of our learning and teaching strategy is what we call ‘just-in-time feedback’, where the students give feedback on pressure points or even teacher blind spots, and that happens in real time, so any issues are actioned immediately.
We encourage the use of discussion forums, which really allows students to engage in deep discussion on interesting topics or challenges, creating an interactive community where students engage with their peers with the support of a moderator or instructor.
And we are also in the process of enhancing our alumni engagement, so that students are linked with ACU graduates on a constant basis, allowing them to engage career-oriented questions, industry questions, giving students sound advice and invaluable networking opportunities.”
Many students are concerned about the impact of automation on the future jobs market. How does the Bachelor of Commerce prime them for those challenges?
“Firstly, our Future Ready employability program is designed to help students to launch straight into their career.
Keen to study commerce at ACU? Explore the options.
We are constantly developing and innovating a career-driven business curriculum that is future-proof, preparing students with future-ready skills. Automation increases productivity for many different tasks, but robots do not have human skills. Things like adaptability, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving – all these belong to the human domain, not the robotic domain, and these are the skills and attributes we instil in our students.
We have problem-based learning, where students come to the classroom, engage with others and solve a problem. We are piloting new programs that help to develop their resilience, to develop a student’s social, emotional, motivational and academic wellbeing… And we have also introduced STEM units to our courses, which is very important in responding to the world’s digital needs.
These exposures prepare students for the future world of work, which is going to be constantly changing, constantly evolving, and as those changes happen, we are constantly innovating our courses to meet the new demands of the new world.”