Our first full day in Melbourne was certainly a busy one!
Our day started with a visit to KPMG's offices a few blocks away from the hotel. A short walk along the bustling streets, and a very crowded tram ride (we couldn't all get one one tram because of the rush hour crowds!) we arrived. A few of the students were somewhat skeptical about what they were going to hear from a company that is mostly well known for tax and accountancy consulting... Boy were they surprised...
We started our visit with a very fast elevator ride up to the 29th floor of the very modern tower building that KPMG calls "home"... KPMG does a very nice job of housing their offices in excellent and impressive locations (we visited KPMG in Sydney in March with the graduate students). We arrived a few minutes early which gave the students an opportunity to take pictures of the cityscape from a very high level.
Our host, Mr. O'Reilly, met us a few minutes later and brought us into their "Insights Room" - an ultra-modern high tech facility that they use to present to clients. Impressive technology! The room contains four VERY large touch screens which allow for a very interesting interactive technology experience. One of the presenters asked if we had screens like these at Clarkson and the students said that we perhaps had one.... The host then told us they had a high-school group visit them several months ago and told them they had screens like that throughout their school!
We listened to a total of 5 presenters who told us about the types of projects being worked on presently that include various business applications of artificial intelligence, block-chain, and automation technologies to all facets of business operations such as customer service, supply chain, maintenance, HR management, and facilities maintenance and operations. I believe the students were a bit impressed - its easy to assume that the US is the leader and only leader in many facets of technology and business operations - its a humbling experience to learn that you aren't necessarily the only player on the field!
Our tour ended with a walk-through tour of their facilities. KPMG is also a leader in implementing the agile workplace. Several students commented that this was the type of thing they learned about in their classes (thankfully they mentioned my class - I talk about this in Organizational Behavior!) and wondered what it looked like in the field. This workplace has workers being more "portable" - being able to work where they want - home, a work station, a meeting room, or a more comfortable area that has a livingroom feel. Desks are electric and allow workers to sit or stand while they work and are fitted with monitors and other laptop accessories to allow the worker to only need their laptop and cellphone in order to face their workday. No landline phones, no clutter... just a clean workspace.
The last part of the tour was a walk around the outside area of the floor that offered spectacular views and cooking facilities for gatherings and celebrations. Simply impressive....
We departed KPMG and headed to IBM... A quick walk to the train station and a 5 minute train ride brought us to Flinder's Street Station where we walked across the Yarra River while overlooking the Southbank area where IBM calls "home". The SouthGate building is impressive as well. Our hostess met us in the lobby and brought us up to their main floor (about at the same level as KPMG - and we were able to look across the city and see the KPMG offices!).
IBM is a company that everyone knows of, but don't really know what they do. The Melbourne office is in the process of renovating their facility to implement an agile workplace. Several students muttered that they thought we were just going to hear much of the same as we heard from KPMG - "just another consulting firm"... Once again, they left with a very different view!
Our hostess is a young recent college grad who had been interning with the company and found out just the day before that she was receiving a full-time job offer in the coming days... She offered the students some career advice and ideas about how to market themselves to potential employers.
The talk she arranged for us included a discussion about the directions IBM is headed - business consulting on all facets of business operations, and a big stake in block-chain (they are strategically positioning themselves on the expectation that in the near future, all facets of business will rest upon block-chain technologies in one way or another). They also set up a discussion that revolved around career options and strategies for recent or upcoming college grads. The talk / discussion included 5 other speakers who ranged from:
a gentleman who was one of the first 16 employees of the recently formed IBM company "Blue Wolf". He has since advanced to a role on the leadership team of that company - a company who has seen 500% growth in revenues and an increase of staff of 7 times the original number... Impressive growth!
a young lady who had been with the IBM for about 6 months. She told the students that her degree was in International Business and she had no formal "tech" education and found herself hesitant to go to work for one of the most well known tech companies. She quickly learned that IBM is looking more for "personality" (soft skills) - they can train and teach the tech skills they will need to perform their roles - but you can't train personality and attributes!
a young mane who is also a recent grad who was also a business student. He is transitioning into a project leadership role. He also echoed the idea that soft-skills and personality are more important than tech skills. Not that the education piece isn't important, but you have to have a personality that "fits" and is proactive and entrepreneurial (it was almost like I scripted him!)....
another young man who recently finished his graduate degree in HR Management. He was able to leverage his economics and psychology degree into a position that allowed him to show what he could do and is now a project manager with great outlook on career trajectory.
A young woman who is presently an intern in IBM's market research department (interns here generally stay with the company for over a year), but doing really big things. She showed us a promotional marketing video she produced that will be the face of the department she is working in.
The students were very keen to ask a variety of questions of the panel from what their work/life balance was like (again, making this old Org Behavior teacher VERY happy!), tips on applying and interviewing, courses that are important, and how to keep themselves visible in a large company. Great questions!
Our visit ended a little later than we anticipated so we had to grab a quick lunch and head to the US Consulate. A 20 minute tram ride brought us to the Consulate where the students learned how secure governmental offices and facilities are in overseas locations. The students were processed through the security station in groups of 5 and given visitor ID's, and escorted to the meeting room. They heard about the functions of the Consulate, a little about careers in the diplomat service, and the business environment in Australia.
After our visit, we decided to postpone the scavenger hunt to Friday afternoon. We stopped for some breakfast groceries on the way back to the hotel, and everyone had free time in the evening. Today (Friday) we will be visiting the Victoria Roasting Warehouse where we will get a coffee roasting demo and lunch! THEN we are doing the scavenger hunt and they have this evening free. Saturday has us taking a variety of tours - some on the Phillip Island Penguin Parade tour, and some on the Great Ocean Road tour. Sunday is a free day. A few students plan to attend an Australian Rules professional football game at the world famous Melbourne Cricket Grounds. We depart for Cairns after the weekend...