BusinesWorks is an innovative programme which aims to engage organisations and/or businesses with students and graduates from DMU. For our involvement with the programme, we explored the real business world by working with Waterfront Sports and Education Academy and as a result we discovered abilities of our own that we might not have been aware of before volunteering for the unique programme.
Being a postgraduate student of MSc International Business and Corporate Social Responsibility, I was very eager to obtain both theoretical and empirical understanding of business issues. My perception of development has changed through working on the programme, as my awareness shifted from purely “helping” to “understanding” the company. My colleagues and I also learnt a lot from the organisation with a motto “think global, act local” and a respect for the company’s vision, missions and targets.
Waterfront Sports and Education Academy – the organisation that we are working with – was established in 1998. It officially became a charitable incorporated organisation in 2013 with its own special characteristics of an entity at the incubation stage which is the early phase of development. The company obtains support to verify their business model, ensure efficiency, achieve self-sustainability and create social impacts on a particular community. Therefore, the approach to this business should differ from those at the acceleration stage when the business model and social impacts are scaled up, which our team didn’t recognise at the beginning of the programme. Eventually we realised that business issues should be addressed from the company’s perspective itself and as a result, set the targets accordingly.
By getting involved in the BusinessWorks programme, I have obtained a wide range of skills that I have never been taught before. They have helped me make daily progress and sometimes even surprise myself. We’ve learnt how to become familiar with new situations and understand advanced knowledge quickly. I was inspired by the narrative and motivation behind the organisation’s establishment of Michael Burgess – the CEO of Waterfront – whose vision is to create a better quality of life for disadvantage groups and individuals. This vision made me recall my experience of supporting social enterprises when I engaged in an internship in Vietnam. During my internship I had a chance to work with social entrepreneurs who were passionate about their mission to solve societal issues by economic models. It was also around the same time that business consultants came in and cooperated with entrepreneurs by transferring their ideas into business models. Through working with Waterfront, myself and my colleagues learnt from the organisation and built up our individual knowledge and skill base, both theoretically and practically.
Like other DMU’s initiatives, the BusinessWorks programme equipped me with the opportunity to work with different students in a culturally diverse environment. It also challenged us through the notion of group dynamics by the incorporation of decision-making processes. Moreover, the project is a reflective progress in which I identified what went well, what could be improved, what our team achieved. BusinessWorks helped me appreciate and understand that success, happiness and learning are all part of a journey rather than a signal destination.