Tristan Tucker, University of Queensland Apply the learning for maximum effect

At the half way mark of my MBA programme, which has consisted of mostly weekend subjects, it is time to reflect on two things – firstly, how many sunny Queensland Saturdays have been spent in a classroom and how important it has been for me to apply what I have learnt to the workplace to get the best value from the MBA.

I have found reflecting on the core messages from each subject while at work allows me to understand the subject better and helps to imprint the main themes into my memory.

This semester the importance of IT in creating effective systems and services that allow organisations to maximise their competitive advantage was a central topic. As an example, the banking industry has invested heavily in IT systems to offer new products to customers and decrease operating costs. So how does IT investment impact on the electricity industry in which I work?

The two main drivers for a bank’s IT systems are to ensure that their customer’s information is secure and that they are offering services that match consumer needs such as instant online banking. These priorities ensure greater customer response and put the bank in a better competitive position.

The management of an electrical network is different; the central function of IT has traditionally been seen as a cost centre. However, increasingly the value is being realised as a key to utilise assets more effectively. Companies within the electricity industry are recognising that inventory and logistics costs can be controlled by centralising procurement activities and linking assets through an enterprise resource planning system. In addition, the gradual implementation of smart meters on customers’ premises allows customers to monitor how much energy they use and cut down in expensive peak demand periods.

Without the MBA I am not sure I would have looked at IT investment for the electricity industry in the same way. Through exposure to real examples both in class and through work, I can better understand the benefits of IT investment on asset intensive industries such as energy.

At the end of the day, the ability to relate the topics from the MBA to my workplace is what keeps the degree interesting and ensures I continue to sacrifice sunny Queensland Saturdays for the classroom. The balance between work and study has been difficult, however it has provided opportunities for further learning that I hope will make me a more well-rounded business leader.