New ventures on the horizon for Indigenous business students
The first cohort of a unique UTS business degree for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students has wrapped up its final year with a presentation of innovative start-up ventures.
“I would like to say congratulations to the students. I know this is the culmination of three years of very hard work,” said Associate Professor Chris Burton, Associate Dean (Education) at the UTS Business School.
“The Bachelor of Business Administration is a program that really underpins the values of UTS, particularly around building skills and capacity in problem solving, creativity and social innovation,” she said.
The executive-style program develops skills in business management, leadership and enterprise development, and builds on participants’ current workforce expertise and Indigenous community knowledge.
At the event, students pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges: Jamie Engel, founder of online learning platform Neutopia, Liam Ridgeway, co-founder of Indigenous digital agency NGNY, and UTS management lecturer Krithika Randhawa.
Janelle Clarke, Michael Ingrey and Khaila-Rose Prior pitched ‘Jakmi’, a voice recognition device that provides a safe way to access smartphone applications while driving.
Christian Hampson, Clarence Slockee, Naomi Broom and Kaitlan Cuell pitched ‘Workabout’, an online platform that connects backpackers and travellers with Indigenous and other business owners to improve the working holiday experience.
Larissa Behrendt, Professor of Law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS, said she was inspired by the students’ ideas and how they were imbued with Aboriginal culture, values and heritage.
“I can already see the great contribution you’ll be making back to our communities. And I think we all feel really proud that you’ve chosen UTS to be part of your journey,” Professor Behrendt said.
Described as “an undergraduate version of the MBA”, the program is taught in “block” or residential mode, which allows participants to continue full-time employment while studying.
"It’s a tough juggling act when you’re working full time, it’s intense, but it’s equally rewarding,” said Clarence Slockee.
“I’ve worked in education, social advocacy and the not-for-profit sector, and I know that true change comes from within. For individuals from different Aboriginal communities to access programs like this, it can be the seed, or the impetus, for major change,” he said.
Christian Hampson, who is from Dubbo in NSW, said the program had opened his eyes to new ideas and a different way of seeing the world.
“It was great to hear the comments from the judges today. What started as an exercise has become something that we think might have some traction. We have three or four other business ideas that we’ve got ready to go as well,” he said.
Naomi Broom, who is currently working at Macquarie Bank, a job she started during her degree, said while completing the program took a lot of discipline it had "definitely paid off".
“The subjects are amazing, they’re an overview of everything about business. And this semester, studying innovation, ideation and design thinking, was the icing on the cake,” she said.
Broom, who grew up in Bundaberg in Queensland and Katherine in the NT, said she hopes her success inspires her younger brother to consider university. Kaitlan Cuell also hopes to influence the next generation, including her nephew.
“I’m the first person in my family to complete university, so I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of the other six students I’ve been with on this journey,” Cuell said.
Manager UTS Indigenous Programs and the Bachelor of Business Administration (Indigenous) Gavin Mate said the program is about emerging leaders taking ownership of their future careers.
“They've been the drivers of their own achievement and success. Our new intake will commence in February next year and so as one group leaves us we begin the journey with the new cohort.”
For more information about the course, including admission, visit this page.