Clarkson is a big advocate of team work and getting people to work with others on larger projects. The reason this is so important to the school is because employers want their employees to be able to work well in teams which can accomplish more than a single individual. Walking through KPMG really showed how important team work is to the company. The environment there was set up to facilitate teams to work together and be as mobile as they need. I found it amazing that everyone at KPMG is expected to be agile, being able to work anywhere they want or need to. For this reason, there was no need to necessarily designate office space to individuals but was instead built to facilitate work.
I was really impressed with how the area was designed to make each area its own little work environment to encourage small groups. I liked how the environment and structure encouraged people to work face to face in the building when possible. I feel that the MBA program has multiple rooms in which groups can choose to work face to face like the lounge, I-lab, LDL rooms, and the conference room upstairs. I really have appreciated these spaces and I see the importance of developing similar areas within a business.
Another big topic that I felt was really well illustrated during the Australia business visits was companies’ ability to innovate. At school, the buzz word of innovation is used a lot but it still seems like an ideal considering there is not much exposure to any real innovative projects. At KPMG, I finally really saw the benefit of having creative and functional spaces that are innovative to promote group work. We also saw a demo of a software to help transcribe and recommend solutions for banks deciding on providing loans. I think something that is missing a lot in the typical class room is the insight about what is really driving innovation. The story about a bank being fined and needing to improve their system allowed for the opportunity for this software to be developed. Innovation does not just happen by sticking people in a room and telling them to innovate, they must be exposed to what’s happening in the business and the industry.
I think the meeting with IBM did a great job at emphasizing the need to accept and work to understand technology. Advice we were given during the meeting was to not be afraid of technology if you’re not a technical person. The speaker also said that he hates it when people say, “they are not a technology person so don’t ask them.” It really resonated with me that people should learn at least surface detail to be able to talk about technology in general even if they are unable to explain the specifics. Technology is changing constantly so the larger concept of what is being done is often more important than the nitty gritty of how (unless you’re the programmer or engineering working on it). I think the most important comment about technology was not to explain technology with detailed technical explanations. I feel being able to talk about the purpose and general details of what programs are doing is more important for upper management so that they can then comment on improvement or define where the next steps in the software should be.
I learned a lot of small but important concepts at AmCham that don’t really fit into one general category besides how to do business. The first lesson was to make sure the company does its due diligence when deciding on future plans. Our speaker told us that Australian companies normally do not see US firms as a threat because they are either stupid or the US firm will be non-competitive. I feel that this shows a lack of planning and research by US firms which I’ll need to be careful about. Another thing I learned was that countries, like Australia, are great places to test new things out because they are relatively small but still can be representative before making major investments. The example used was the new Tesla Power Plant which may benefit from a smaller scale test in a country before trying to engineer it to fit all the United States. I had never thought about how these kinds of countries make for great pilot locations before.