Five Business School students have contributed to Australia’s largest shellfish reef restoration program off the coast of South Australia, as part of a consultation project for not-for-profit The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

The project was run by the Global Consulting Group (GCG) UNSW Branch, which gives Business School undergraduates the opportunity to use their skills for positive social impact whilst providing organisations with unique access to innovative solutions.

The students pitched their ideas for the expansion of the marine habitat restoration program to the TNC board last month. Dr Chris Gillies, Marine Manager at TNC Australia, said:

"We set a challenging and technical brief which the consultants were able to quickly decipher, and assess where they could most add value. They exceeded our expectations in terms of professionalism, quality of product and relevance to our work. In my mind, there was little difference between their strategy solution and what we would’ve gained by hiring working professionals."

Students Fahad Ahmed, Jess Cong, Dulana Jayawardena, Sonia Parulekar and Sophia Zhang conducted thorough research and analysis to give TNC dynamic, low-commitment initiatives to engage potential stakeholders. Their ideas were technology-driven and offered TNC a fresh insight and approach to building community profile and fundraising.

The solutions they proposed included; a ‘Reef Awareness Day’ to raise the profile of the campaign; crowdfunding to enhance awareness and drive financial support; and a Brand Ambassador Program, leveraging the reach of well-known YouTubers, science-based magazines and social media marketers such as Buzzfeed to increase public knowledge and support.

"For most of us it was the first time doing a hands-on project with real world implications,” said Sophia, one of the student consultants. “It was a huge learning experience."

A new team of student consultants will be assigned to The Nature Conservancy project in future semesters to deliver phase two of the consultation.