MBA students learn how to make sustainability pay

17 June, 2010

Deakin MBA student Stephen Ryan found himself using not just his newly found finance skills but also his more creative skills with video and editing when he set off on Deakin Business School’s Australia Study Tour to Tasmania earlier this year.

Stephen was among 12 students, studying Finance, who visited a range of businesses in Tasmania to explore carbon reduction investment opportunities first hand and to use their new found skills to evaluate the financial viability of “green” initiatives. Stephen captured some of the visits on video.

“The Australian study tour is a unique way to learn finance,” Stephen said.

The students, who themselves hold significant responsibilities in their organisation, spent three days of intensive study on campus at Deakin’s Melbourne campus at Burwood before visiting the businesses including Tasmania’s leading salmon producer Taasal, MelShell Oysters, EcoTourism operations, Hydro Tasmania and Gunns Ltd.

“One of the highlights of the tour was the visit to the Taasal, the Salmon company,” Stephen said.

“We got to see every element of their operations from the incubation of the fish to them growing on in freshwater and tanks.

“For Taasal to come from receivership in 2002 to the enormous well run operation we saw on the tour, it was very impressive.”

Stephen said the students also toured Hydro Tasmania’s Paloona Power Station. Later they had the opportunity to visit the electricity trading floor to see how electricity is traded between states.

The scale and size of the businesses also surprised the students particularly the joint wind power generation project between Hydro Tasmania and the Roaring 40s and the diversity of Gunns Ltd business.

“At Abalone Farms, like many of the businesses we visited, electricity is a key cost which fluctuates, so investing in renewable energy generation is a priority for them,” Stephen said.

“Financial managers need to be able to look to the future and tune into what new innovations are coming and how they will impact on their business,” Deakin University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) director, Dr Terry Boulter, explained.

“Creativity is an important skill that our MBA graduates need to develop in order to do this effectively.”

Dr Boulter said as a profession finance people thought about what shape the future was about to take and what was needed to be developed to take the opportunities presented forward. One of the emerging issues was sustainability.

“There are really exciting things happening in this area,” Dr Boulter said.

“People in the Netherlands for instance are hooking up to what is a wind propeller to their homes to generate electricity and feeding that back into the grid.

“In Tasmania electricity generated by the Woolnorth Wind Farm will supply enough green energy for 70,000 homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 300,000 tonnes each year.”

Dr Boulter said the students worked with business managers to identify investment opportunities that could improve upon the company’s operating costs and reduce its carbon footprint.

“For instance we took a look at the outlay involved in the purchase of a water turbine which generates electricity that can be used to pump fresh water through the abalone pens,” he said.

“We looked at the cash flows which will come from it and whether the reduction in electricity costs is sufficient.

“If it wasn’t the students needed to identify options that would make the proposal viable.”

Dr Boulter said the reports the students prepared would assist the businesses visited but also the students’ own places of work.

“They were exposed to all the projects and were able to take the ideas back to their own organisations,” he said.

News facts
  • Australian study tour is a unique way to learn finance
  • Study tour takes students to Tasmania
  • Students use finance skills to evaluate the financial viability of “green” initiatives.

Media contact

Sandra Kingston
Deakin Media Relations
0422 005 485

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Deakin MBA student Stephen Ryan's video
of the Australian Study Tour

Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

17th June 2010