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Wan Nie and the IXL Innovation Olympics

Posted: 14 July 2019

Bangladesh, Experience, In Australia, Innovation, Private Sector, Scholar,

Australia Awards scholar Wan Nie, from Bangladesh, was a part of a team from UNSW Sydney that won 1st place at the Fall 2018 IXL Innovation Olympics in October. The event involved 7 companies and 21 universities from across the globe; UNSW was the first Australian institution to participate in the competition. Wan’s team included five other people, four of whom were Australia Awards scholars.

The winning team included:
1. Jason Alacapa (Team leader; Australia Awards scholar from the Philippines)
2. Wan Nie (Deputy team leader; Australia Awards scholar from Bangladesh)
3. Romeo Pragacha (Australia Awards scholar from the Philippines)
4. Luke Wicent Sy (UNSW-sponsored PhD student)
5. Febe Haryanto (Australia Awards scholar from Indonesia)
6. Atika Prastyamita (Australia Awards scholar from Indonesia)

The IXL Innovation Olympics is the world’s largest innovation consulting competition, organised and co-sponsored by the IXL Center and the United States-based non-profit Global Innovation Management Institute. The eight-week action learning program challenges business school students to integrate their business knowledge and innovation skills to solve a growth-related problem for a company.

Wan spoke to us about the competition, life in Australia and his Australia Awards experience to date.

Can you tell us about your participation in the IXL Innovation Olympics?

“In the IXL Innovation Olympics, our team’s challenge was to help our client (Universidad Industrial de Santander) achieve its vision of being the ‘University of the Future’ and one of the top three universities in Colombia. We completed an online course offered by Global Innovation Management Institute to learn innovation methodologies and to develop an innovative breakthrough solution for our client during the competition. We proposed several concepts based on the industry perspective and their local context: innovation hub, micronisation, and social impact. We tried to combine these concepts into one solid and effective business case for our client.

The winning team of the IXL Innovation Olympics with mentor Jeffrey Tobias. The team included five Australia Awards scholars, including Wan Nie from Bangladesh (centre). Image: UNSW 

“Our team was interdisciplinary; each member came from a different academic speciality (including finance, engineering, business and health) and each had a different skill set. The team leader delegated tasks to the team based on each person’s specialisation and, later, each work solution was tested by the team and received feedback from mentors. I contributed with marketing strategies and approaches for the team’s solution. As the deputy team leader, I coordinated the team, distributed tasks, and managed and organised meetings. When the team leader was away during the competition, I filled in. It was an intense eight weeks, given our existing study commitments and the need to accommodate up to four different time zones due to team members’ travel plans and the client and mentors’ distance from us. We were located all across Australia— Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne—as well as overseas in New Zealand, Europe, Colombia and the United States.

“As the winning team, we received a USD 4,000 cash prize and we also have an opportunity to visit Colombia to meet our client.”

Wan Nie (right) celebrating the win with team members, Romeo Pragacha (Australia Awards scholar from the Philippines, featured on the left), and Febe Haryanto (Australia Awards scholar from Indonesia, featured middle)

How do you feel about your Australia Awards experience to date?

“The Australia Awards experience is the best thing that has happened in my life. It has been a truly life-transforming experience. It helps me embrace limitless learning and is making each of my dreams come true. The Australia Awards Scholarship is generous and has facilitated all the support I need to learn and grow.”

“The best thing about Australia is that I get to meet people from around the world. I have met many people across industries through multiple events. The connections I have built in Australia will be highly valuable later in my career. Therefore, I am investing a great portion of my time here in Australia towards extracurricular activities in addition to my studies.”

Tell us about yourself and the difference you hope to make upon returning to Bangladesh

“I belong to the Rakhine indigenous ethnic community in Bangladesh. As a member of a minority group, access to career opportunities can be very difficult. I have worked for the capacity and community development of my Rakhine community through the Bangladesh Rakhine Students’ Association. I would like to continue this contribution upon returning home.

“Before coming to Australia, I worked as a Business Consultant at Swisscontact Katalyst (a Swiss international development agency). I got the opportunity to work on many different and innovative projects focusing on market system development for the agro-business sector in Bangladesh. While working as a consultant, I realised that Bangladesh has the potential to diversify its export sector. For example, as Bangladesh’s service sector is close to half the size of the whole economy (49.33%) and is increasing gradually, Bangladesh can export knowledge skills to the emerging global gig economy.

“Thanks to Australia Awards, I am studying a Master of International Business and Sustainability. Upon returning to my country, I intend to work as a consultant with the private sector and government bodies in facilitating support services in order to diversify export sectors and expand international trade.”

Is there anything else about you or your experience that you would like to share?

“I really like the Australian work-life balance and outdoor activity culture. It has been amazing to see how people here in Australia never miss enjoying life while working hard and pushing their limits at the same time. Since arriving in Australia, I have tried wholeheartedly to embrace this culture and fully utilise my time alongside my study commitments. I have participated in three running events (City2surf 2018, Blackmore Half Marathon 2018 and Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon 2019) and one cycling event (MS Gong Ride 2018), among other outdoor activities. I raised funds for Autism Spectrum Australia in the City2surf event and created awareness about multiple sclerosis in the Sydney to Wollongong cycling event. I also worked as a Professional Development Manager in UNSW Graduate Students’ Association.

“Additionally, I have started an online internship training with KPMG through the InsideSherpa platform. Working online has meant that I can work from home and can action deliverables while saving time that I would normally have used to commute. I am only here for two years so I am trying to capitalise on all the opportunities I have.”

Wan Nie (far left) enjoying Sydney with fellow Australia Awards scholars and Aboriginal performers