Sydney MBA team advises world leaders on government of the future

18 March 2019
UAE’s Global Universities Challenge focuses on failed states
An MBA team representing the University of Sydney Business School has defeated competitors from around the world to finish 2nd place in the high profile Global Universities Challenge in Dubai.
Katrina Van De Ven, Ashley O'Connell, Liana Porihis, Chris Murphy, James Watson and Matt Gatzoubaros at the Global Universities Challenge

Katrina Van De Ven, Ashley O'Connell, Liana Porihis, Chris Murphy, James Watson and Matt Gatzoubaros

The Challenge is a feature of the annual World Government Summit which brings together around 4,000 political, public and private sector leaders with the aim of shaping the "future generation of government" and "helping to create a positive impact for citizens worldwide."

The Global World Summit is sponsored by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.

Universities taking part in this year’s challenge, including Wharton, INSEAD, the London Business School, the University of Sydney Business School and Harvard, were given 48 hours to develop a strategy to revive a fictional failed state.

With a budget of $100 billion, Sydney proposed a three-pronged approach involving short-term crisis management, a governance model changing the role of technocrats, a venture capital model to attract foreign investment and solutions to "wicked" problems.

The Sydney team of Liana Porihis, Matt Gatzoubaros, James Watson, Ashley O’Connell and Katrina Van De Ven came second to Dartmouth College’s Tuck Business School. But the placing failed to diminish the value of the experience for team members.

"The Challenge presented a unique opportunity to contribute to the future of public policy on the world stage, alongside some of the brightest minds on the planet," said Liana Porihis.

"I hope that both the diversity of nations that were represented and the collaborative spirit of the challenge represent how global policy makers and business leaders will work together for years to come," added Ashley O’Connell.

Team members all agreed that the Global Universities Challenge was the highlight of their MBA studies.

"Opportunities like the Global Universities Challenge that sit outside the formal curriculum are where you learn the most about yourself, others and what you do or don’t really know," said James Watson.

For Katrina, participation in the Challenge was an "exceptional experience" that challenged her preconceived notions of the best way to devise policy and, more importantly, "grew my understanding of how to tackle 'wicked' problems."

"What I learnt through this process is that everyone has the power to shape the future of governments worldwide and that different perspectives are important," concluded Liana. "The key lies in taking action and in finding the confidence to put yourself and your ideas forward."