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Urban beehives idea wins top award in GEE business competition

24 August 2016

BCom student Kate Burn with Victoria Business School Dean Profesor Bob Buckle after accepting the top award at the Global Enterprise Experience business competition

BCom student Kate Burn with Victoria Business School Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Buckle after accepting the top award at the Global Enterprise Experience business competition

A simple and remarkable idea to establish beehives in urban areas as a way to better integrate homeless people into society has won top award in the Global Enterprise Experience (GEE) business competition for 2016.

The winning business proposal aimed to provide employment for Johannesburg's homeless while making the most of the city's climate and conditions, according to Victoria Business School student Kate Burn.

"We chose Johannesburg for our project because rooftop beehives are legal, the city has over six million trees, a great climate for honey production, and a very high homeless rate.

"Most of the homeless are keen to work, but unemployment levels are over 30 percent so they get stuck on the streets," she said.

Kate, a BCom student majoring in Marketing and Management, accepted the Champion Team Award at the international competition's award ceremony at Parliament recently on behalf of her eight team members from Indonesia, Nepal, New Zealand, Rwanda and the Netherlands.

Nearly 900 students from fifty-three countries took part in the annual, three-week contest, in which they developed a business concept proposal on a profitable product or service fostering social cohesion.

Each of the 111 teams this year was led by a New Zealand participant, most of whom were from Victoria University.

Kate said despite the "gulf in our societies", her team became friends throughout the three week project.

"We Kiwis had to stretch our cross-cultural understanding and leadership skills but after three frazzling weeks we had really grown, stepping up to become global leaders."

Students overcoming extreme challenges to take part in the contest

With team members from all over the globe, participants must overcome differences in culture, time zones and languages to work cooperatively.

GEE founder and director Deb Gilbertson says each year she hears of students overcoming extreme challenges to take part in the contest to develop global leadership skills and create business ventures tackling social and environmental problems.

"Pegah Bezrooli is banned from study in Iran because she is a Baha'i, so studied architecture at a Baha'i underground university," Ms Gilbertson said.

"She runs the risk of lengthy imprisonment for studying and communicating with foreigners, and her global team drew on her skills to create low cost adobe housing for the Nepalis to rebuild following last year's devastating earthquake."

"Our Nepali participants frequently face 12-hour power cuts each day, Nigerians used cellphones rather than computers to write the reports, Rwandans struggled to access the internet during the weeklong commemorations of the 1994 genocide, and the Armenians were caught in the outbreak of a war."

GEE is sponsored by Victoria Business School, the University of Otago Business School and Te Kaihau Ltd education consultancy.

This year's judges were Dr Jian Yang, MP and Education and Science Select Committee chair; Dr Jo Cribb, Ministry for Women chief executive; Guy Ryan social entrepreneur and 2015 Young New Zealander of the Year; Alan Koziarski, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise director coalitions and sectors; and Dame Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner.

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Outstanding reviewer award for Dr James Richard

10 August 2016

James Richard holding reviewer award certificate

Congratulations to SMIB Senior Lecturer, Dr James Richard, who has received a 2016 Outstanding Reviewer Award for his contribution to the European Journal of Marketing.

Each year, Emerald Publishing Group awards certificates in the areas of business management, finance, accounting, economics, and marketing.

Now in their 23rd year, the publisher's Literati Awards judge reviewers on the timeliness of their reviews, the quality and depth of the reviews, and the quantity of reviews submitted throughout the year. The awards recognize the efforts of authors and peer reviewers in ensuring that every published paper makes a genuine contribution to its academic field.

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Dan Laufer profiled on PwC global alumni list

21 June 2016

A/Prof Dan Laufer featured in PwC alumni list

A/Prof Dan Laufer featured among select profiles on PwC alumni list

A/Prof Dan Laufer, the Head of the School of Marketing and International Business, was one of twenty-five PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) alumni whose work has just been featured on the global consultancy firm's website in the United States.

PwC has over 100,000 alumni in the US, and among the select profiles are CEOs and CFOs of multinational corporations.

Dr Laufer's profile outlines his area of speciality – crisis management – and particularly the challenges faced by today's companies that operate in an age where social media and global technologies dominate communications.

After posts at the University of Cincinnati, Korea University and Yeshiva University in New York, and his earlier roles with PwC that led him to specialise in crisis management and risk assessment, Dr Laufer came to Victoria in 2012.

He also sits on a panel of experts for the Wall Street Journal, commenting on best practices in crisis management.

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An internship in Colombia for BCom graduate

10 June 2016

VBS alumna Gracie Miles, image courtesy of Helen Young Photography

Gracie Miles heads to Medellin for a management accounting internship (Helen Young Photography)

The chance to practice accounting in an emerging market overseas is an opportunity too good to turn down for Victoria Business School alumna Gracie Miles.

Gracie graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting, Commercial Law, and International Business, and is headed to Medellin in Colombia to complete an internship in the field of management accounting.

"After recently receiving the details of my role, I’ve realised how lucky I am – it's exactly what I see myself doing in the future."

Although she studied Spanish briefly at high school, it wasn't until Gracie was required to take a language paper as part of her International Business course that she realised how passionate she was about the language.

"I would really love to be fluent in Spanish and that's part of my motivation to go to South America – to really practice the language and get amongst the culture.

Gracie credits studying Accounting and International Business at Victoria with her success so far in her career.

"If I had never done International Business, I probably wouldn't be where I am now and heading to Colombia.

"The combination of International Business with my Accounting background has made me stand out and has given me confidence."

It was a friend, who is also a Victoria graduate, who recommended Gracie look at The Intern Group programme. "I went home, got click happy and applied."

Gracie is now looking for help to cover the costs of the six week internship, but says that regardless of what happens and how much she raises, she’ll be heading off.

"Not going is not an option – I know how beneficial this is going to be for my career and what it's going to do for my future.

"Spanish is now the second most widely spoken language in the world and Latin America is a major focus from New Zealand. This role and the experience I’m going to gain is going to open a lot of doors.

"When I return to New Zealand, I hope to be able to share what I learn while in Medellin."

Gracie plans on returning to New Zealand after her internship and complete her studies towards becoming a chartered accountant, and has set up a Givealittle page to help cover the costs of her six week internship.

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Go big, be consistent: Capturing the full value of your brand

8 June 2016

Victoria Business School researchers Associate Professor Urs Daellenbach and Dr Michelle Renton

Victoria Business School researchers and brand experts Associate Professor Urs Daellenbach and Dr Michelle Renton

It's a hard game pitching products into big retailers and encouraging consumers to see the extra value in a premium product.

Victoria Business School brand experts Dr Michelle Renton (School of Marketing and International Business) and Associate Professor Urs Daellenbach (School of Management) say investing in your brand and sticking to its values are the keys to making it work.

The following is an abridged version of an article based on their research, originally published in New Zealand Business, June 2016.

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the food and beverage industry recognise the importance of branding. But relatively few seem able to capture the full value of their brand.

Our recent research sought to better understand the way New Zealand SMEs in the food and beverage sector develop their brands, especially in the face of external pressures from the retail and supermarket sector.

We found that to get the full value from branding, SMEs needed to do two key things: go big on branding, and give the brand the consistent support it needs.

We also found that SMEs that do this are laying the foundations for increased sales.

SMEs typically have entrepreneurial origins, and are often characterised by creativity, unconventionality and nimbleness in their decision-making. There are benefits from having this flexible approach, but SMEs may inadvertently trade off better success in creating and capturing value from their brands.

For SMEs seeking to build high brand awareness and a positive brand image, their efforts may ultimately suffer when changeable decision-making leads to inconsistency in branding. When brand strategies are not written down, neglected altogether; or branding is unsupported or under-resourced, the flexibility that entrepreneurs value may take focus away from developing their brand.

This is especially evident in industries such as food and beverage manufacture where the value chain involves small and emerging organisations supplying large and powerful retailers. Often for these smaller companies, focus on the brand ends up taking second place to generating cash-flow.

Why does one breakfast cereal seem more ethical than others?

In contrast, SMEs that carve out a strong brand strategy consistently focus on building extensive brand awareness and positive consumer perceptions. To do this, they spend time and resources communicating the distinct meanings of their brand to well-chosen target markets and ensure their customers can differentiate between their product and that of their competitors.

Firms that succeed at this ensure their target customers know what they are buying when they purchase the brand. This can seem somewhat diffuse within a category of functionally similar products.

For example, why does one breakfast cereal seem more ethical than others, or one brand of orange juice more fun than another? After all, there's nothing inherently ethical about breakfast cereal or fun about orange juice, so what will set one SME in these categories apart from others?

The answer is well-crafted clear brand meaning. Brand meaning describes what the brand stands for and is what promotes one product to be perceived as different from others. It's these meanings that inscribe in the consumer a sense of value.

Our research finds that entrepreneurs and marketers who focus on and support their brands with sufficient resources over time are better able to communicate a clear, well thought out brand meaning consistently. When this happens, brand awareness and positive brand image typically grow quickly, which is the starting point for increased sales.

Of course this approach comes with a price tag. Resourcing and supporting brands and brand strategies require a central strategic focus on the brand, support from the top level down and clear managerial responsibility, all of which can be difficult for cash-poor SMEs, particularly those that are small and emerging start ups.

These strategies also require a more formal approach than many SMEs may not be used to. However, our research suggests that for organisations willing to write down their strategy, follow it, and support it with resources and clear lines of managerial responsibility, a focus on brand strategy can bring real value, in both domestic and export markets.

Challenges that SMEs face when trying to put their brand strategies in place

Unfortunately, SMEs face further challenges when trying to put their brand strategies in place. Supermarkets and major retailers may believe that the financial risks of stocking branded products outweigh the benefits, particularly when branded lines offered by small SMEs don't meet their stringent performance targets.

In export markets, control over the brand is often further diminished when distributors are used.  For many small and emerging companies, their branded lines end up taking second place to their needs for generating cash flow, regardless of whether they were working domestically or in international markets.

These pressures steer the company's focus away from brand strategy and can result in diluted resourcing and less support from senior managers necessary to building the brand. This limits the development and communication of a clear brand meaning, making it difficult for customers to distinguish between generic and branded lines.

And when consumers don't have a clear idea of what a brand means for them, they are unable to see why it is better or even different from alternatives, let alone why it should command a higher price point.

In these circumstances, the positive pull on consumer demand that results from high consumer expectations about the brand decreases. This diminishes its value to both consumers and category managers in supermarkets and because of lower sales, the company as well.

SMEs need to remember that despite potentially conflicting pressures, they shouldn't lose focus on their brand strategy. Success and sales are more likely if they go big on branding, create clear brand meaning, and then support it and communicate it effectively to consumers.

By creating consumer value through brands, value accrues to distributors and category managers, and eventually SMEs can reap the rewards from harnessing the full power of their brand.

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Future business leaders celebrated at VBS Excellence Awards

1 June 2016

Prizewinners gather in the Memorial Theatre for the 2016 Victoria Business School Excellence Awards

Prizewinners at the annual Victoria Business School Excellence Awards gathered in the Memorial Theatre

Victoria Business School’s highest achievers were celebrated at the School’s fourth annual Excellence Awards in May.

The awards recognise Victoria Business School's top graduating students across each of its disciplines, as well as its best PhD and Master’s students. A number of special awards were also presented including the Victoria Business School and AVC (Pasifika) Scholarships.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Commerce Professor Bob Buckle says it was great to acknowledge the successes of Victoria Business School’s best and brightest ahead of graduation.

"These awards acknowledge the years of hard work and commitment our students have dedicated to their education and to being the very best they can be. This is a great achievement."

Guest speaker, Victoria Business School alumnus and Faculty Advisory Board Member Vanisa Dhiru, told the audience she was humbled to be in the company of such great achievers, and to never be disheartened when things don't go to plan.

"It's the people behind you—your family, whanau, community—who will help push you past those boundaries to follow your dreams."

Professor Buckle expressed his gratitude to sponsors who had partnered with Victoria Business School to provide named prizes.

"We are proud of the strong working relationships we enjoy with leading New Zealand businesses and government agencies.

"Their involvement in these awards not only demonstrates their ongoing support for Victoria Business School, but for the future leaders who received the awards."

School of Marketing and International Business Award Winners

  • Caitlin Attenburrow — Marketing Association Award for Marketing
  • Claire Belford — Excellence Award for Marketing
  • Cara Butcher —  Excellence Award for Marketing
  • Kaliana French — Marketing Association Award for Marketing
  • Katelynn Fuller — Marketing Association Award for Marketing
  • Tamra Lindsay — NZX Award for International Business / Excellence Award for Marketing
  • Alicia McQuade — NZX Award for International Business
  • Sophie Speakman — Excellence Award for Marketing
  • Megan Weir — Excellence Award for Marketing
Sponsors for the Excellence Awards

Victoria Business School is grateful to the all the organisations who have generously sponsored prizes for the Excellence Awards that celebrate our highest achieving undergraduate students.

Sponsor logos for the VBS Excellence Awards

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Connecting with China

27 April 2016

AProf Daniel Laufer and Professors Yang and Wei from Jinan UniversitySMIB Head of School, Dan Laufer, was recently invited as a guest speaker at Jinan University in Guangzhou China. He spoke on publishing in international marketing journals at the leading Chinese university.

Dan has published a number of articles in top marketing journals such as Journal of Consumer Psychology and the Journal of the Academy of a Marketing Science, and is internationally regarded as an expert on crisis management issues.

Jinan University is one of China's leading research universities, and is considered a National Key University by the Chinese Government.

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Summer scholar wins Summer Gold

18 April 2016

Congratulations to summer scholar Katelynn Fuller, who won a prize last week for her poster in the Summer Gold Competition.

Katelynn Fuller: Advertising Health Messages to Children
Summer Gold prizewinner Katelynn Fuller

Prizewinner Katelynn Fuller

Marketing student Katelynn Fuller won best poster prize in the Best Visual Presentation category with her poster "I want it NOW".

Katelynn's research project, "Advertising health messages to children – How do we influence kids' "now" thinking?", looked at designing advertising messages to positively influence children’s health and food choices.

After getting familiar with the background literature, she was involved in developing the questionnaire, recruiting schools, and assisting with field work. Katelynn's research skills were also extended by assisting with the preliminary data analysis.

Schools were very receptive to the project's healthy eating message. During the project Katelynn learned how to put child participants at ease to facilitate interactions, which according to her supervisor is an invaluable skill for conducting research with children.

Katelynn was supervised by Janine Williams from the School of Marketing and International Business.

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Dr Revti Raman presents research at INZBC chapter launch

23 March 2016

Dignitaries at the launch of the Wellington chapter of the India New Zealand Business Council

Guests at the launch of the INZBC Wellington chapter: (L-R) Jay Changlani (INZBC), Moira Turley (MFAT), A/Prof Dan Laufer (VBS), Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Sandeep Sood (Indian High Commission), Robert Barker (INZBC), Dr Revti Raman (VBS), H.E Sanjiv Kohli (Indian High Commissioner), Wenceslaus Anthony (INZBC), Professor Siah Hwee Ang (VBS), Claire Williams (VBS)

School of Marketing and International Business researcher Dr Revti Raman was the guest speaker when the University hosted the launch of a new chapter of the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) in Wellington last week.

The event was well attended by key stakeholders from both business and government, with Mayor Celia Wade-Brown welcoming the new Indian High Commissioner designate H. E. Sanjiv Kohli in her opening remarks.

The Mayor noted the presence of MFAT, NZTE, members of Parliament including Dr Parmjeet Parmar, and other government organisations, as strong indicators of ongoing support for INZBC's work enhancing trade relations between India and New Zealand.

INZBC partnered with Victoria Business School to organise this event, and invited Dr Raman to give a presentation on 'Managing India New Zealand Institutional Challenges for Success', which was based on his recent studies.

"INZBC thought it would be good to share my key findings, as it fits well with this audience," says Dr Raman, a senior lecturer at the School of Marketing and International Business.

"I see my project as of applied nature, which could be useful for New Zealand business managers doing business with India."

Funded by the India New Zealand Education Council, Dr Raman's project focuses on enabling businesses, academics and governments from both countries to effectively engage in fruitful and economically robust relationships.

Head of School of Marketing and International Business, Associate Professor Dan Laufer, says it was great to see the School’s research making an impact beyond academia and reaching senior government officials, as well as the business community.

The BNZ Chair in Business in Asia, Professor Siah Hwee Ang, says India is a key part of Victoria’s strategic focus to enable and support New Zealand’s position as an Asia-Pacific trading nation.

"While sharing historical ties, India and New Zealand businesses continue to face cross-border institutional environment challenges in their engagements, and Dr Raman’s project enhances our understanding in this arena."

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