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Australia-first Transformer program

L-R-Bond-University-Vice-Ch
L-R Bond University Vice Chancellor Prof Tim Brailsford, David Baxby, Chancellor Annabelle Bennett, Mark Sowerby, Jared Pohl, Dean of Bond Business School Terry O'Neill

Bond University will launch an Australia-first co-curricular program aimed at instilling ‘big-picture’ thinking in students across all faculties, after making a $2.5 million investment in the new offering, including a dedicated co-working space.

More than 90 students have already enrolled in the new Transformer program, the launch of which coincides with the university’s 28th anniversary.

It is available year-round at no cost to students, and designed to develop creativity, encourage exploration, enable innovation and enhance the Gold Coast university’s trademark entrepreneurial experience, for which it’s been renowned for almost three decades.

The Transformer is being offered to all students and can be completed at their own pace in three distinct consecutive phases – Inspiration, Exploration and Transformation – over the course of their undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

The program is being overseen by an independent Advisory Circle of industry heavyweights, including Queensland Chief Entrepreneur and Blue Sky Alternative Investments founder Mark Sowerby, Virgin Australia director David Baxby, ECP Asset Management co-founder and portfolio manager Jared Pohl and GoldBean founder and chief executive Jane Barratt. Mr Baxby, Mr Pohl and Ms Barratt are all alumni of Bond University.

Participation in the Transformer will earn students credit towards Bond University’s mandatory Beyond Bond extra-curricular program, which ensures all students graduate with on-the-job experience and skills.

Bond University has created a new cutting-edge co-working space, situated in the Bond Business School, which will be the home of the Transformer.

The innovative space will provide a dedicated place for students of all disciplines to come together and access academics, industry experts, mentors, workshops, events and other resources.

Through the program students will benefit from academic coaching, a regular ‘expert insights’ Q&A series with leading industry figures and one-on-one mentoring, particularly from high profile Bond University alumni.

Bond University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Tim Brailsford, said, as its name suggested, the Transformer would be a transformational experience for all its students.

“Bond University was founded on entrepreneurial thinking, so innovation is really at the core of everything we do – it is in our DNA,” he said.

“Being a small university, we are in the unique position to offer a program like this to each and every student, no other university in Australia could provide this level of student support and engagement.

“The Transformer is not a traditional business incubator or accelerator program; our focus is on investing and developing our students, rather than commercialising their business concepts.

“While both may happen as a result of the Transformer, the program has been created to nurture all sorts of ideas, big and small, whether projects have economic, environmental or social outcomes and whether their impact is as a new business or within an existing organisation.

“The program ensures all our students are exposed to skills highly-valued in today’s workplace, such as ‘big-picture’ thinking, creative problem-solving and evidence-based decision making.

“It is an extension of our Beyond Bond program, which has been well received by our students and the businesses who have employed our graduates.”

Bond Business School Executive Dean, Professor Terry O’Neill, said Transformer would help students to identify problems and drive change.

“In today’s fast-paced business world, graduates need to have the skills to step into any job and hit the ground running, including positions that might not yet exist,” he said.

“Entrepreneurial skills are at the top of the list for employers looking for nimble millennial employees who can adapt, discover, explore, innovate, collaborate and think outside the box.

“We are fortunate to have the involvement of the diverse and highly successful entrepreneurs and business identities that form the Transformer Advisory Circle, along with the participation of leading industry mentors and speakers, and academics from every faculty to guide our students.

“Over time, we will be looking for businesses and community groups to come to us with real-life problems our students can help solve.”

Professor O’Neill said the Transformer’s focus on bringing together students from all faculties added to the ‘richness’ of the program.

“Students from different faculties will bring completely different problems or ideas to the table and will have their own unique approach to solving them,” said Professor O’Neill.

“By putting them in the same room, we create opportunities where a student from health sciences, for example, might identify an issue in their industry that can be solved with the unique insight of someone from business or law.

“Students will be encouraged to work in self-selected teams, with interdisciplinary collaboration highly encouraged and provided through exposure to the various academics, coaches, mentors and industry experts.”

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