Delivering insights differently

It’s been another year and another fascinating experience with the Postgrad IT Masters students at Monash University. In amongst some pretty well-established companies (with the likes of ANZ, Coles, Motorola, and Telstra also participating), this little start-up spent eleven weeks assisting the students to build a live solution to a real-world problem, with their shiny set of newly acquired skills.

Ben and Dave (a couple of our fabulous employees) came along for the ride, and every third Friday or so we headed out to see the latest iteration of what the students had built. It’s a great opportunity for our staff to see just how far they have come since their own university days, as well as practicing their leadership and mentoring skills on others. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s a good day out of the office!

We had four groups of students this time to assist/critique/scare/(but hopefully) guide and each group had a different set of challenges to overcome. We saw groups with too many good ideas, groups with bad quality data, groups with no ideas, to groups with limited knowledge in the subject areas they had been assigned. Between us, I don’t think they took comfort in the feedback of “welcome to the real world, these problems don’t disappear after this”. But they pushed through their discomfort, and week after week, slowly started sweating less, and relishing the opportunity more.

Over and above the obvious ‘hard skills’ the groups got to put into practice (data science, software development, testing, UI etc), I think they would have been most surprised how far their ‘soft skills’ would have progressed too. Some may even be feeling confident in their abilities to project plan, manage their own time, contribute to a broader team, present slides, and demo a solution to customers by now.

And that’s why this initiative is so close to our hearts at Ignite. Because in the world we live in, no amount of hard skills will ever help you succeed if you can’t wrap a layer of soft skills around them. Anyone can deliver a solution, but one that hits at the heart of a very real problem is harder to come by. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but how many people are bringing their strengths to the table and consciously propping up their weaknesses with the team around them? And what good is it knowing how to do everything if you can’t effectively communicate what you know to others? These are things we feel passionately about, the things we look at for when we hire, and this is the message we hope the students got from us during our brief time with them.

No matter where the students take their solutions to from here, I believe they all won some insights that they probably couldn’t have seen coming, no matter how good at predictive analytics they are!

Well done Monash University for another successful Industry Experience program!


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