Each year UNSW Business School provides students with international experiences as part of the Global Business Practicum course.  Bronte Gooley recently returned from India having spent three weeks working with TATA Consultancy Services in Mumbai.  Bronte took a break from studying to tell us about herself, her time at UNSW Sydney and her experiences working in India as part of the Global Business Practicum.  

Q/ Tell us a bit about growing up in Wagga Wagga?

Bronte:  Growing up in Wagga Wagga was the best.  I grew up on a small farm just outside of Wagga Wagga with my mum and my sister. We love our home and growing up there was a blast.  My friends and I loved exploring as young ones and enjoyed hanging out and relaxing by the river as we grew up. My family and I were always busy maintaining our work, school and life balance with the farm but I wouldn't trade it for a thing.

Q/ How old were you, when you realised you wanted to study at a university?

Bronte:  I was in year 11 when I decided university was for me.  I had looked into other options at various careers fairs in year 10 but that never really eventuated.  Then I became quite involved at my high school, started to really enjoy the academic aspect of school too, and figured that university was the next logical step.

Q/ Why did you choose UNSW and the Business School over other universities?

Bronte:  UNSW Business School was ranked quite highly when I first started applying for degrees and I remembered thinking that I should choose the best place academically that my application was accepted.  I also wanted to experience living in Sydney and I was much more attracted to the culture and opportunities available at UNSW as opposed to other Sydney universities.

Q/ What drew you to the course?

Bronte:  I didn't study business studies or mathematics during my HSC, so I honestly ask myself this question all the time.  But I do know that I love learning new things, and the business and commerce world was one that I had never explored before.  I was originally enrolled in a Commerce/Arts degree so that I had the freedom to move between faculties if I so desired.  But I really enjoyed my first year of Commerce and ended up making the switch.

Q/ When you got to UNSW Sydney, were you 'fish to water' or did it take time to adjust?

Bronte:  I couldn't believe how little grass there was at UNSW, how different traffic was here, but I also couldn't believe my luck that I now lived by the beach.  I was also fortunate to live on campus for the first two years of my degree, meaning that I had a lot less to worry about, allowing me to focus on settling in.  I was also surrounded by a few more country kids which certainly helped.

Q/ UNSW Business School offers students opportunities to undertake international practicums – why did you decide to embark on the practicum to India?

Bronte:  I had a friend who had completed the same program but in Jakarta.  The practicum seemed like an incredible opportunity to gain workplace related skills, meet new friends, be completely immersed in another environment and earn units of credit at university.  So I knew I definitely wanted to apply for the practicum.  I think the primary reason that I chose India was because I knew absolutely nothing about India, which I found shocking as it is an increasingly growing market.  I wanted to explore this and experience a totally new culture that I would never find anywhere else in the world.

Q/ What was your experience like on the Global Business Practicum in India?

Bronte:  India is like no other place I have ever been.  It's a total sensory overload where you are just bombarded with chaotic beauty.  It's really quite captivating.  The food, the people, the animals, the weather and the speed of the country are all totally different to anything you'd ever expect in Australia.  I guess I could draw similarities between Sydney and Mumbai - purely because they are both major cities - great opportunities, awesome nightlife, fast paced and terrible traffic.  And I loved the rural areas in India but I wouldn't say that they reminded me of Wagga.  Especially considering we were travelling during monsoon season - we used to get flooded in at the farm but it was nothing in comparison to India's extreme weather.

Q/ During your time in India you worked at a global consulting firm, TATA Consulting Services.  What projects were you asked to work on?

Bronte:  My friend Justin and I worked on Tata Consulting Services  Social Media channels and helped with the app development process to facilitate their Global Running Strategy.  To carry out this work we did a lot of app testing, which included physical running at one stage, we also posted weekly social media videos and created a snippet video for the TCS Global Empowers Series to promote the New Colombo Plan.

Q/ What was it like working with TATA Consulting Services?

Bronte:  Working for TATA Consultancy Services, was an unparalleled opportunity.  Prior to coming to India, I actually hadn't heard about TATA.  But being immersed in the birthplace of TATA was extraordinary.  I was working in Marketing for TCS, so of course, we had to learn the TATA story and the company's values to determine the best way to communicate the brand to their clients and prospective employees.  I was seriously impressed to see how the TCS vision and their actual strategy and output aligned, to provide excellence to their clients and to do good for the community - which I don't think I could say about many other big, global corporates.  One of their values was "Respect for the Individual" and no matter what office we were in or what levels of authority we were speaking to, as international interns we were treated with the utmost respect and our opinions were always valued.  I found that absolutely amazing.  Additionally, we were welcomed into three offices in Mumbai and one office in North Sydney and it was great to see that the company's values translate between all of their offices.

Q/ What were some of the difficulties and challenges during the practicum?

Bronte:  Certainly, the most challenging aspect was the pace of the trip.  You have three weeks to complete your project, but at the same time you are absolutely mesmerised by the incredible country you are in.  You really have to strike a balance between completing your work, weekend travel and exploration before and after work.

Q/ What were the highlights during the practicum?

Bronte:  I think the greatest highlight was being able to explore India with a group of legendary, like-minded people.  We learnt so much in those few weeks whilst working towards goals together. Another highlight was getting to know the locals.  They were so incredibly hospitable, welcoming us into their homes and introducing us to their families.  Even in the office, everyone was so kind and generous, bringing in different foods for us to try and answering all of our questions.  Travel was another great highlight.  I was fortunate enough to explore Mumbai and other regions around India, observing different sceneries and meeting new groups of people.

Q/ If you had your chance again would you attend the practicum in India and would you recommend it to others?

Bronte:  Most definitely. India was a great experience.  Before applying for the Global Business Practicum I wasn't certain that I wanted to go to India to "work".  But after what was an unforgettable experience I would definitely encourage anyone to take the opportunity to explore another country within a working context.  It's an added bonus that you get to go with a big, fun group of students from the university too.

Q/ What are the plans after graduation and where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Bronte:  Who knows? I'd love to take a year off to travel and relax before getting too serious.

Q/ Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Bronte:  Another big question... I'd love to see myself excelling in a company that I am proud to work for.  Whether that is based in Australia or overseas, so long as the work is fulfilling and delivering some good output into the world, I don't really mind.

Q/ Is there any advice you would offer prospective students from rural backgrounds?

Bronte:  Don't limit yourself.  I didn't know a lot about university when I was finishing high school and really took a stab in the dark by moving to Sydney to study Commerce.  As much as I absolutely loved growing up in a rural area and will definitely move back at some stage, there are so many incredible opportunities available here at UNSW.  Three years ago working back home in Wagga, I would never have thought that I would have been interning for an inspiring global corporate in India.

The Global Business Practicum is an experiential and intensive for-credit course.  It provides students the unique opportunity to gain international understanding, exposure and workplace skills through studying and working in a specified location overseas, usually in Asia.  Each year the practicum is offered in Bangkok, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Israel and Shanghai.  You can find more information about the Global Business Practicum here.