A message from our Head, Professor Simon Wilkie

The remarkable agility of a large school

As we reflect on 2020, it really was a year like no other during which we faced unprecedented challenges. But, as is often the case, out of adversity there has been triumph.

Professor Simon Wilkie, Head, Monash Business School
Dean, Faculty of Business and Economics

As I completed my first full year as Dean in 2019, I remarked about being awed by the amazing efforts of the staff in achieving excellence. Well, I think the bar has well and truly been raised.

For the largest business school in Australia, I have been truly amazed at our agility in a time of crisis. Our academic and professional staff banded together to redefine our entire curriculum to make sure every student felt supported, engaged and able to succeed in their learning.

More than 90 per cent of our students expressed positive levels of satisfaction with their online experience during 2020. They were supported by an extended Academic Safety Net to protect their academic record and Grade Point Average (GPA) from any negative effects of COVID-19 disruptions and we provided
greater financial assistance to support students in need.

We made investments in global bandwidth to improve the quality of delivery and partnered with computing giant Alibaba Cloud in China to get better ISP access for students in remote areas.

We contributed to a whole-of-Monash University team effort and made personal contact with thousands of students stranded outside Australia to develop individual study plans.

More than 90 per cent of our students expressed positive levels of satisfaction with their online experience during 2020.

As the crisis unfolded, our researchers delivered much-needed information through webinars, academic papers and news articles. In a world plagued by misinformation, quality thought leadership from a trusted source of knowledge is more important than ever.

Our research endeavours were impressively supported by achieving over $7million in research income, including 15 per cent of the total Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project funding for research in economics, commerce and management.

This work was further validated with an upturn in our international rankings, strengthening our global position.

In recognising an epidemic of stress and burnout felt by workers throughout our society, our Executive Education portfolio entered into an exclusive three-year alliance with Thrive Global – brainchild of global entrepreneur Arianna Huffington.

The Monash-Thrive partnership will deliver evidence-based programs to lift the performance, resilience, engagement and mental health of corporate employees across the Asia-Pacific region.

We are now sharply focused on the significant impact that economic uncertainty, new ways of working and organisational culture have on employees, businesses and mental health across our communities.

But we look to 2021 with a new hope. Where to from here?

This pandemic has also achieved in months what many thought would take years in terms of digital disruption. We have seen first-hand how necessity can be a powerful accelerant.

The Business School continues to strive to be agile, to innovate and co-create – delivering excellence in our teaching, and future-proofing our graduates with the knowledge and skills to thrive in the dynamic employment landscape.

We will continue to address the changing demands of business at an intersection with emerging technology, by harnessing our world-leading research expertise to address challenges around big data, analytics and risk.

We must also redefine how new and innovative business principles and practices can be applied to foster a healthier, safer and higher-functioning society.

Exploring the significant links between mental health, economic status, unemployment, crime and national productivity remains a priority.

I believe one of the biggest challenges of our time is to develop businesses and economies that are resilient and adaptable to profound environmental change.

Through solutions-based research and collaboration we can empower businesses to act ethically relative to profits, people and the planet – and create a better world for all.