Recognising and celebrating our award-winning teachers – and the methods behind their award-winning practice.

Dr Helen Siuki teaches in the Department of Marketing at Macquarie Business School. In 2021 Helen introduced an innovative curriculum to facilitate cocreation and authentic assessment in her postgraduate marketing units, through industry engagement, and employability initiatives.

In 2022, Helen won the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Learning Innovation.

Below, Helen shares her insights on what it takes to set up and work effectively with industry partners in learning and teaching.

What do you consider the main challenges in setting up industry mentoring programs like this and how did you manage these in setting up your own program?

Reflecting on my experience setting up the industry mentorship program in my postgraduate units, here are some insights on the main challenges, and some strategies that helped me to overcome the challenges:

One of the biggest challenges in setting up such programs is finding suitable mentors, who have the necessary expertise and experience, and are willing to volunteer their time, and commit to the program. It’s not an easy job, especially if you are looking for mentors who are already established in their careers. Reaching out to my existing network, professional associations, and especially, MQ alumni networks helped me to identify and connect with experienced marketing professionals, and approach potential mentors, discussing industry collaborations with them.

The Industry Mentoring program spearheaded by Dr Helen Siuki is an innovative collaboration that provides the opportunity for students to engage with industry professionals to develop skills and experiences that will be highly valued by employers like Microsoft.

Megan Mallin, Microsoft | Industry Mentoring Program

Many experts may be hesitant to commit time and energy to such programs, as they are not usually being compensated for their efforts. I could overcome this challenge, by investing in my professional networking activities, connecting with people who are willing to pay it forward, as well as, developing a clear and compelling value proposition for industry partners that highlights the benefits of such collaborations for them, such as opportunities for their professional and personal development, networking, skill-building, and a potential talent acquisition opportunity for their company.

Mentoring is not just giving back to the community, it’s an opportunity for mutual learning and accomplishment!

I believe setting up industry partnership programs as L&T activities, requires extensive time investment, dedication, and careful planning and execution. By identifying potential challenges and developing strategies to address them, you can increase the likelihood of success and create a partnership that benefits all the stakeholders.

Thank you so much for making this unit wonderfully engaging and providing us an opportunity to meet real life experts in their fields to inspire us.

Macquarie student

What are your top tips for educators wanting to approach and work with industry partners for student learning?

There is no doubt that working with industry partners can provide valuable learning opportunities for students, building their confidence, enhancing the relevance of their education. Here are my tips for educators who would like to develop partnerships with industry:

Develop a plan, and be open to adjust your plan: Create a plan that outlines the goal of the program, alignment with the university’s strategic vision and L&T priorities, how the partnership will work, what resources and support each partner will provide, and what would be the time-frame, and commitment degree (an industry partnership can range from a one-off guest lecture, to an ongoing mentoring program that involves multiple mentors). This will help you to come up with a feasible and productive initiative that can effectively support students’ learning, enhancing their education experience. Be open to feedback from your industry partners, colleagues, and students, and be willing to make adjustments to your plan as needed.

I liked the fact that students had the opportunity to learn from both academic and industry perspectives, simultaneously. I believe that this unit is designed in a way that allows students to get hands on experience on creating real-life marketing campaigns/ practices, using the latest content curation and analytics tools and applications.

Adrian Di Francesco, LEGO | Industry Mentoring Program

Build and sustain mutual relationships with the relevant potential partners: Devote sufficient time to research about industries, and companies that align with your curriculum, and student interests. Look for experts that have a track record of collaboration with educational institutions, have expressed interest in supporting academic activities, or companies that can provide real-world experiences, or have established existing education-related programs which you can integrate in your curriculum. Reach out to potential partners to start building relationships, attend industry events, connect with professionals on LinkedIn, or ask for introductions through your network.

Think outside the box, and tailor the partnership to fit your curriculum: Industry partnerships can provide educators with new resources, expertise, and unique opportunities to develop curriculum that aligns with industry needs, boosts students’ confidence, and enhances their employability skills. This can involve work integrated learning (WIL), experiential learning opportunities, integrating real-world examples, cases, and projects into the curriculum, guest lectures, mentoring and judging, industry interviews, practical workshops, and real-life or virtual internship opportunities that can ensure students are learning the skills and knowledge that are most in-demand in the workforce.

You led class so effectively that we never felt like we were actually doing coursework every week but something like an interesting project together.

Macquarie student

Interested in applying for a Vice Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Award in 2023?

Visit our Awards in Teaching webpage for application dates and details.

Acknowledgements: Banner image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay Post collated and edited by Karina Luzia

Posted by Teche Editor

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