​When Youth off the Streets (YOTS), a community-based organisation that provides support to young people facing issues related to homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse, wanted to measure the social return on investment of a key program, they called in a team of AGSM MBA students.

Comprised of six students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, the team brought a wealth of experience and business knowledge to the challenge, which formed the group’s Strategic Consulting Project.

A Strategic Consulting Project is an elective which offers students the opportunity to work in a team with one of AGSM @ UNSW Business School’s industry partners to address a live business challenge.

The organisation benefits from access to some of the brightest up and coming business minds, while students can apply their MBA learning in a real world environment, gaining invaluable practical experience. AGSM faculty support and guide the team throughout the process, from initial consultation right through to oral and written presentation.

The team worked closely with YOTS management and AGSM Fellow, Dr Kevin Clarke as well as faculty member Dr Jeff Coulton, to identify and understand the impacts of the Dunlea program which provides a range of social services to youth affected by drug and alcohol abuse.

At the end of the twelve week project, the team presented YOTS management with a comprehensive report which both identified the issues with applying a social return on investment model, and provided recommendations for successful execution.

“The AGSM team drew some really interesting outcomes that really provided Youth Off the Streets with a roadmap to apply the approach to a number of projects. Given the constraints and limited data sets we were able to provide, it has been an amazing effort” says YOTS Manager of Government Advocacy and Funding, Evan Walsh.

YOTS Director of Corporate Services, Mark Twomey also praised the report, saying “The teams findings have genuinely moved the Dunlea project forward. We have already applied some of the information from the report to another project. We are also now in a better position

to have some informed conversations with our government stakeholders. If other organisations are in a position to engage with AGSM MBA Students on a Strategic Consulting Project they should do so.”

Of the experience, 2016 MBA Graduate and YOTS project team member, Tatiana Rivera, found both the social impact aspect of her experience and the opportunity to apply MBA learning to be highly rewarding. “It was challenging, but really enjoyable” she says. “It was a great opportunity to get out of the classroom and apply the ideas and skills we acquired throughout our program.”

Fellow team member, Aina Tugbobo added “It was a valuable experience applying a different business model to the provision of much needed social services. It helps to change your own perspective too.”

Are you up for the challenge?

To find out more about taking part in an AGSM Strategic Consulting Project, as either a student team member or industry partner, contact AGSM Academic Director, Clinton Free or call +61 2 9385 9705. ​​