UQ MBA Students Team Up With Mao’s Last Dancer


Seven University of Queensland Business School MBA students and alumni recently developed strategic goals for the Queensland Ballet as a part of the Social Economic Engagement Program (SEEP).

SEEP provides an invaluable opportunity for MBA students to apply their learning to a real-life challenge faced by the not-for-profit sector, whilst also giving something back to the community.

As a registered Australian charity, the Queensland Ballet relies on support from many individuals, companies and trusts to support their artistic program, as well as key initiatives in education, wellness and the community.

MBA student Elisa Janiec was part of the SEEP team tasked with developing strategic goals for the organisation’s ‘people and culture’ planning process.

“Everyone at the Queensland Ballet was very trusting and gave us huge access to staff and resources, and we had the opportunity to speak to over half of the organisation.

“We were also very fortunate to work closely with the Artistic Director, Li Cunxin (Mao’s last dancer), which was definitely a big highlight. He is so passionate about his work and it was really inspiring,” she said.

In her role as the client contact within the team, Elisa was in charge of liaising with staff, scheduling team meetings, and organising interviews.

Overall the team conducted in excess of 40 one-on-one staff interviews and facilitated a half-day workshop with Queensland Ballet staff, which aimed to improve their inter-organisational communication.

Queensland Ballet Chairman of the Board and UQ Business School MBA alumnus, Brett Clark, said the SEEP project helped Queensland Ballet gain valuable insights into their people and culture.

“Our people are our most important asset, so we want to ensure they are well-supported and we create an environment where they can flourish. The project allowed us to identify our strengths and areas of development.

“We have continued our relationship with the Business School, with MBA students now helping us to evaluate our relationship with primary and secondary schools. We look forward to the results,” he said.

The project culminated in a student lead presentation on the strategic business plan and recommendations for the Queensland Ballet board.

“It taught me understanding and patience, and the importance of delivering a message that will actually be heard, listened to, and ultimately adopted by an organisation. I would strongly recommend SEEP to all of those who wish to give back,” Elisa added.

The program, run by Cassandra Vickers and Associate Professor Neil Paulsen from UQ Business School, has partnered MBA students and alumni with over 40 non-profit and community organisations on similar projects since it commenced in 2010.

Ben Ready
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).