Sydney Business School MBA Students Get Real World Capstone

The University of Sydney Business School and the National Australia Bank’s online subsidiary, UBank, have formed a partnership aimed at further strengthening the School’s industry and leadership oriented MBA program.

Students will work with UBank on their major or ‘capstone’ project which will focus on design thinking and lean start up methods.

Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Management Dr Eric Knight said that MBA students would be working with UBank CEO, Ms Lee Hatton, and her senior management team.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to work with Lee and her team,” Dr Knight said. “UBank is extremely dynamic, digitally engaged and at the cutting edge of financial technology.”

UBank was launched by NAB in 2008 with a mandate to disrupt and challenge the financial industry and establish a presence in the ‘self-directed’ online banking market. Without a physical branch anywhere in the country, UBank’s mortgage book is now valued at nearly $4 Billion.

“UBank is essentially a fintech with a banking license, and we are always looking for ways to disrupt the industry through partnerships, new technology and new ways of doing banking,” Ms Hatton said. “Joining forces with the University of Sydney’s MBA program is hugely exciting for us and we can’t wait to see the results.”

“Saving money is a critical part of helping Australians prepare for their futures and key to overall financial security. As a result, we’ve asked the University of Sydney students to think about how we can engage Australians to review and reinvigorate their own personal savings journey,” said Ms Hatton. “To do so, students are encouraged to examine trend predictions, explore innovative technologies such as gamification or wearables, or repurpose existing UBank assets if it addresses people’s evolving needs.”

“Innovation and disruption is at the core of what we do at UBank. We’re looking for a creative, innovative solution that will disrupt ideas around savings, and reconnects and engages Australians,” said Ms Hatton.

A total of 25 MBA students will participate in the capstone project which will be overseen by faculty adjuncts Natacha Ng and Josh Raitals.

UBank’s leadership team will help them to achieve their goal by sharing insights, knowledge and data and spending significant time with them to ensure the best possible learning outcome. 

“Through the partnership, UBank hopes to demystify banking not only for the students but for our customers. It’s no secret that UBank does banking differently. It’s our vision is to become the most referred brand in Australia and we believe authentic engagement is the starting point for advocacy,” said Ms Hatton.

MBA Director Professor Guy Ford, said that while many MBA programs offer capstone units that require students to undertake a business simulation or prepare a consulting report, the Business School’s unique capstone provides participants with an invaluable opportunity to work alongside a corporate partner on new product development.

“Many firms are too resource poor to get out and really listen to large numbers of existing and potential customers regarding their evolving product and service needs, and then rapidly prototype solutions. Our MBA capstone provides this resource, and offers real outcomes with a very short period of time,” Professor Ford added.

The Business School’s Deputy Dean (Education), Professor John Shields, described UBank’s partnership with the School as “institution building”.

Reflecting on the evolution of the School’s MBA program since its launch in 2013, Professor Shields also said that “partnerships of this caliber are fast becoming a core feature of our students’ learning experience and the School’s brand, capability and influence”.

“This partnership with UBank is also very much in keeping with our efforts to produce a new generation of creative business leaders with new skills, greater confidence, international experience and a capacity to deliver outstanding results on the global stage,” added the School’s Dean, Professor Greg Whitwell.

Dr Knight believes the pilot project with UBank may pave the way for more regular engagement with UBank, following the model established with Swiss Re, the global re-insurer, which was designed to tackle problems at the intersection of healthcare and insurance.

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Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).