Archive for the ‘ABS News’ Category

ABS Students Test Online Ordering Platforms in the Classroom

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Students in BBUS22070 Management of Information Systems tested the online platform of ordering pizzas used by “Dominos”. They tracked in real time the process of ordering, making, transporting and ultimately delivering of the pizza.

The class used the experience to test the reliability of the online platform, from the initial online order, to payment and ultimately to assess if the order was correctly prepared and delivered in a timely manner. The final test of course was the taste test – of which all agreed was a success. This exercise was created by our new sessional lecturer Dr Homa Freeman, a newly graduate PhD in the area of Information Technology. Students agreed this was a great way to test IT systems and online platforms, as well as share a tasty dinner together.

The class is planning an excursion to visit the Avondale College IT team, to see the challenges of a real world IT division within a higher education provider. Great to see students doing practical applications of the theory they learn in the classroom.

ABS Presents at International Business Research Conference

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The 10th Sydney International Business Research Conference was recently held, where the conference Chair was Associate Professor Niloufer Selvadurai, who is an expert in Intellectual Property Law from the Macquarie University Law School. Seen here with Associate Professor Lisa Barnes who was also invited to the Conference as a Keynote speaker on the topic of “Research and Collaboration” to share in her journey in the murky waters of research and publications.

Papers were presented by researchers from as far away as Sweden, and it was a great opportunity to network with researchers not only from Australian Institutions but from many institutions located in Malaysia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Lisa also assisted in presenting a paper with her former PhD student Annika Westrenius, who graduated from the University of Newcastle in 2016. The paper was titled “Big decisions in small business: Stakeholder priority” and discussed the challenges small business owner managers face when making decisions in relation to stakeholder management. For the full conference program click on the attached link

ABS Joint Research Project with Alphacrucis College

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Avondale College is partnering with Alphacrucis College on a joint research project entitled: “Women in Higher Education Institutions: Constraints and Enablements”. The project arose from the invitation extended by the Avondale Women’s Group to Professor Lily Arasaratnam-Smith who is the Deputy Vice President Student Affairs and Chair of Academic Board of Alphacrucis College.

Lily Arasaratnam-Smith gave a presentation on challenges and opportunities for female academics, particularly in light of the current “male, pale and stale” executive environments in the higher education sector. On sharing her experiences, she invited Associate Professor Maria Northcote (Discipline of Education, Avondale College) to share her academic journey at the Alphacrucis Women’s Executive meeting late last year. At this meeting Maria shared her “mistakes” as an academic, but also her learnings from those mistakes.

Associate Professor Lisa Barnes from ABS was invited as the March 2019 guest speaker at Alphacrucis, and shared her journey and challenges to create a life/work balance, particularly in her role as a parent as well as Head of Discipline. Breakfast meetings, late running afternoon meetings and inefficient meetings all contributed to her imbalance, but the satisfaction she gets from the teaching, flexible working options and the support from her co-workers has contributed to less stress about the balance.

Feedback from the presentation: “Thank you for your honesty, for your transparency on a subject that resonates well with me personally (especially the aspect of the mum-work-life balance). From your story, I am glad for the aspects where you have been victorious, thus paving the way for women in your wake. Although a difficult journey, your passion for advocacy for women has seen incredible victory. Thanks for sharing. From a fellow mum who is already wondering about dinner and hoping that my very helpful husband will remember to do homework with the 9 year old….”- Rachel.

This sharing of experiences led to the notion of a joint research project. Based on a replicated study that so far has shown some initial similarities.

Factors that support or constrain career development:

Women in Higher Education: Challenges & Opportunities, a cross institutional study – watch this space.

Culture Starts at the Top

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A recent article by Nicholas Barnett for Governance Institute Australia deals with the role of Boards and senior leaders in create culture in the organisation (read it here).

He refers to ‘Tone at the top’ which he notes as, “being a high bar for honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour noting that it is a foundation stone for forming and shaping a robust, resilient and ethical culture”. While typically thought of as being the board and CEO, it also includes executives, audit and risk committees, etc. By setting a high bar, research has shown that both character and performance make for more trusted and higher performing organisations.

Recent exposure of poor culture in the financial services insider in particular has highlighted the need for organisations to ensure they are caring for their culture, and that it is being developed from the very top.

You will need to read the entire article for the full explanations, but a summary of the key behaviours to form a good culture include:

  • Don’t be afraid to say sorry and show genuine remorse
  • Words are cheap: You must walk the talk
  • Systems, incentives and consequence management may need to be re-aligned
  • The chair and the CEO are the chief integrity and ethics officers

How does you organisation compare to these practices? Is it time for a culture check? The Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you. To find out how, simply contact Warrick Long via or 02 4980 2168.

Leadership Succession in Adventist Schools – A Partnership

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dr Peter Williams recently had the opportunity to present some of the findings from his Faith-based School Leadership Succession research to Adventist Schools Australia (ASA) NSW School Principals and Administrators (to view the PowerPoints click here). The findings presented centred around the leadership aspirations levels of ASA employees, as well as the factors influencing the willingness and unwillingness of ASA employees to apply for school leadership positions. Peter’s presentation concluded with a number of practical implications for these school principals that could assist leadership development at the local school level. This presentation was very well received, and further discussions have led to an active partnership being entered based around researching and strengthening the leadership supply pool within the Adventist education sector.

Reflections on my Pathway: Supervision and Publishing

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Former Avondale student Christopher Akroyd returns home to conduct a research seminar hosted by the Avondale Business School on March 15, 2019. Currently working as Assistant Professor at the prestigious Oregon State University College of Business with a role that includes Research supervision and publishing. Chris shared his journey that began in 1985 at Avondale College as a tertiary student. Working at Sanitarium while studying he graduated from the University of New England with a Bachelors of Business degree.  He went on to complete his MCom, MBA and PhD degrees before taking on the job at the Oregon University.

His presentation at the research seminar included three very pertinent topics that benefited the group of participants from Avondale College.  Chris shared his experience Research Supervision – Building a community, Research methodology – Finding a lens, and on Publishing – Persuading editors and reviewers.

‘Knowing when to defend your position and when to change track and do what editors and reviewers ask you to do was a key to getting papers accepted’.

Gain Control By Giving Up Control?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

To have more control, give it to employees! This is the thrust of a very interesting article by Ranjay Gulati (read it here). In the article, Gulati highlights the tensions between employee empowerment and operational discipline. Leaders typically fluctuate between giving too much freedom and not enough.

To address the fluctuations, Gulati proposes implementing well designed and well implemented guidelines to both support and nurture employees. When done well, these provide a “clear positive, galvanizing, sense of where the organization is trying to go”. Essentially this is a “freedom within a framework” approach.

What does this mean? As Gulati says, “it means trusting employees to thank and act independently on behalf of the organisation”. Does that sound dangerous? Yes it is, but what Gulati points out very clearly is that “people now enjoy innumerable channels for sharing concerns and ideas in their personal lives. Compared with these expansive platforms for self-expression, the work-place can feel downright stifling. The freedom of the outside world is banging at the corporate door, demanding to come inside.”

The challenge for leaders is to open that door!

Using some very relevant and interesting case studies as examples, Gulati summarizes the change in a simple model involving:

  • Purpose
  • Priorities
  • Principles

When leaders and employees are clear on what these mean for the organisation, the opportunity exists for a framework which cares less about control and more about empowerment. And when that happens, everyone wins.

The Avondale Business School (ABS) can help your organisation become a winning one, simply contact Dr Warrick Long via or 02 4980 2168.

The When, How and What of Meetings

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

When is the best time, how to meet, and what most frustrates professionals about meetings was the subject of a major research project by Doodle, the online scheduling company (Read it here), who surveyed over 6,500 professionals involved in over 19 million meetings. The report makes fascinating reading, and should be mandatory for all people responsible for organizing meetings.

Some key highlights include:

  1. When:
  • 70% of professionals prefer meetings between 8am and 12pm, with another 12% preferring them before 2pm.
  1. How:
  • 76% of professionals prefer face-to-face meetings.
  • Of the other formats:
    • 7% prefer conference calls
    • 5% prefer video calls,
  • 97% of professionals feel that meeting in person was an effective way of building relationships at work
  1. Frustrations:
  • Poorly organized meetings top the list, with professionals spending an average of three hours per week in meetings, two of which they consider unproductive! This creates confusion in the workplace and impacts their ability to actually do their work.
  • Bad meetings that involve people:
    • Taking phone calls during meetings
    • Interrupting each other
    • Not listening to the contributions of others
    • Arrive late or leaving early
    • Talking about nothing for long periods of time

The good news is that there are some characteristics identified of good meetings also, which included:

  • Setting clear objectives
  • Setting a clear agenda
  • Not having too many people in the room

Any organisation that can transform their meetings into effective processes will be a step ahead of their competitors. How does your organisation shape up? Maybe the Avondale Business School can help your organisation transition to more effective meeting practices. To find out how, contact Dr Warrick Long or 02 4980 2168.

Communicating Through The Noise

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

“Sorry?” That is the reflex response from anyone in my family when one of us makes even a vague comment about ears or hearing. The goal is to try and get the person to repeat what they said. Silly, I know, but we’ve been doing it for so long it is ingrained in our DNA!

Communication can be a very big issue in relationships, especially in workplaces where we usually don’t have the benefit of an intimate family history together. A recent article I came across deals with one aspect of communication, specifically when the conversation takes a turn for the worst. Alexandra Hayes takes a look at this and has brought together some tips on how to minimize the damage. The full article can be read here, and following is a very brief summary for you.

  1. Breathe – take a deep breath, and slow things down.
  2. Don’t be accusatory – no labeling other people as that can be offensive to them. And check your non-verbal’s (like eye rolling).
  3. Don’t be preachy – trying to always be right and winning down not help.
  4. Avoid Combative dialogue – avoid trying to one-up the other person
  5. Avoid 100% certainty – certainty is dangerous so avoid absolute terms like “always” and “never”, which put the other person onto the defensive.

At the end of the day the goal is to be able to communicate respectfully, allowing each person to truly hear what the other person has to say.

Avondale Business School is well placed to help your team develop its communication skills. To find out how, contact Warrick Long at

or 02 4980 2168.

ABS Reports on the AICD Summit 2019 “Rising to the Moment”

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

ABS Head Associate Professor Lisa Barnes attend the recent Australian Institute of Company Directors 4th Annual Governance conference in Sydney on the 4th  and 5th of March.

The opening panel was a debate on the future of corporate governance in Australia, with panel members Penny Bingham-Hall (non-executive Director), David Gonski (Chairman of ANZ) and Heather Ridout of Australian Super. Hot topic of course was the recent findings of the Royal commission into the banking sector, with Mr Gonski readily admitting they dropped the ball in terms of governance and now have a fairly rigorous amount of work to do to repair the culture from within the organisation particularly around the notion of remuneration, to gain back the trust of their stakeholders. The following was a quote that ended the session from David Gonski.

This was followed by a presentation by current CEO of Xero Steve Vamos, who has previously worked with the likes of Steve Jobs. His message was clear, we need to “humanise” our workforce and presented his talent mapping tool, where staff can be placed into one of 9 boxes, so that they can be targeted in terms of their potential in particular for succession planning. Steve asked the question are you “driving the right culture for your business”?

At the heart of it is “us” to think about how we want to achieve good culture. The humanisation of the workforce was the primary message here. He recommended to read the book “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella current CEO of Microsoft – a mindset change may even happen! In his words “Culture” shapes why people do what they do and how they do it. Values and engagement are elements of culture. The CEO is the chief culture officer. Culture is a contact sport.

Next was Ann Sherry AO FAICD Chairman, Carnival Australia and Board member of NAB discussed outcomes from the royal commission, she stated that the board should have “listened more” they were focussed on short term numbers rather than long term outcomes, they basically lost their customer focus. Stepping back from a human level, they got caught up in the micro, forgetting the macro.

Finally to end the first day was a role playing “hypothetical” session attended by 5 high profile Company Directors entitled “Moral and Ethical Decision Making in the Boardroom – Exploring the complex dilemmas facing todays Board”. 5 different scenarios were posed from a cyberattack, media leak accusing the company of unethical sales practices and discussion on amoral practices companies unwillingly engage in. A great way for delegates to continue thinking about their own performance as a Board member is this constantly challenging state that us being on a Board.

The second day of the summit opened up with Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel’s address on the Imperative of Innovation. He predicts the advent of fully autonomous companies by the end of the decade – that is no humans running companies, just DirectorBots. Alan touched on his 6 year role as Chancellor at Monash University. In his opinion a good director should be competent, intelligent and well meaning. Directors when making decisions shouldn’t be asking can we do this, but should we do this.

The second session of the day was a panel “Unlocking the value of doing the right thing”. Panel members included Michael O’Loughlin (ex Sydney Swans player and GO Foundation co-founder), Jill Hannaford, Shelley Reys & Shirley Chowdhary. Run by Ali Moore, journalist with the ABC, the panel discussed diversity and inclusion and embedded work practices, particularly the representation of indigenous people and cultural awareness in corporates.

The next session involved the Not-For-Profit sector, entitled the “Evolution of the for-purpose sector”. The panel discussion centred on remuneration of directors on for-purpose boards. A representative of the ACNC, the Productivity Commission, and some directors of for-purpose directors, also discussed the changes of reduction in not-for-profit red tape, but increase in liability and fiduciary responsibilities for directors serving on for-purpose boards.

The next panel discussed Future Trends: Preparing for the next cycle of change.

This panel discussed technology governance, in the framework of ethics, regulation, agile governance approaches, & competitive advantage. In a live audience poll asking “which trend is your Board least prepared for?”, 34% felt least prepared for governance of emerging technologies, followed by 27% machine learning, 22% autonomous machines and finally 18% social trends.

The final session was a discussion on the findings of the Royal Commission into the Banking and Finance Sector. According to Honorary Neville Owen who presided over the HIH Royal Commission in 2003, his views have not changed with the recent outcomes from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, he wants to know, did anyone ask themselves “is this right”?. The summit finished with a panel made up of the AICD Chair, Justice Owen, Ali Moore (ABC) taking questions from the audience on any matters concerning director and governance.

The conference program can be accessed via the AICD website at