2022 Co-President Interview: PART 1
Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Hear what Ava and Harrison have to say about their experiences with BusinessOne and their visions for the upcoming years! Whether you're someone who barely knows B1 or someone who has been involved with B1 in the past, part 1 of this interview will definitely give you a good taste of what we are like! 🧡
Q1: 🧊🔨 You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
I’d kidnap Frank Ocean and Rhianna, lock them in the studio and not let them leave until they have another album ready to drop. It's what we deserve.
🧊🔨 What's the most extreme thing you've ever done to make friends?
Go on 6 campus tours on the same day of O-Week.
Q2: As B1’s subcommittee and consultant recruitments will be closing soon, who should join B1, and do you guys have tips for those interested in applying?
I think the people I envision joining B1 are people who I guess resonate with the following things.
The first is that they really want to make genuine connections with other people. And I know that sounds really generic, but you'll be surprised by how many people actually don't really care about meeting new people. I think some people are really keen to reinvent themselves, enjoy being surrounded by new people, making genuine connections and doing new things with new people, but there are also people who are very comfortable with not branching out of their social circles.
Secondarily, anyone who has an interest in startups. I think B1 is by far the best place at UNSW to be surrounded by people who have that same interest, have opportunities to learn about it, and have access to relevant startup networks.
Thirdly, those who are driven, but not driven in a tunnel vision sense. I think that drive is actually really important. When people who fall under the first point have this drive to grow, whether that be their skills, the amount of people they know, their intellectual abilities, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about having the desire to grow and having that intrinsic drive that isn't just narrow-minded. It’s not about status. It's not about signalling. It's not about stacking your resume. It's just about knowing that you are growing as a person and you're growing a skill set. Having that mindset is I think the third quality.
And also people who want to give back to others. This doesn’t just apply to the B1 context. If you can gather lots of people who care about actually helping each other, that’s really, really important. So if you care about giving back to others, mentoring others, using your personal experience to guide other people, I think you will fit right into B1’s nurturing culture.
In terms of tips, talk about those things I’ve mentioned. The genuineness will come through more than saying “oh, I have this xyz skillset” because at the end of the day, we are all students and that doesn’t really matter too much. Also, reach out to people in B1 or even message our Facebook page and you will be redirected. If you know anyone in the society, talk to them about why their experience has been good.
Lastly, talk about startups because that’s our vision for B1. In the past B1 has been very consulting, even sometimes tech and investment banking focused. But the shift is going to be moving to startups in the following years. So if you’re someone who’s super, super, super, super passionate about startups, you will stand out and I think that’s really important. We need more people like that in B1.
I’m trying to think of anything to add on because I think Harrison has covered a lot already. I’d say, if you’re coming in as a subcomm, we would want someone who is relationship orientated. It's really important that when you have a team, you strive to get to know them. Just genuinely treating your subcommittee and directors as people you genuinely want to get to know and spend time with.
Another trait is the willingness to learn. We have so much to offer here. We have great people who are really, really smart and really talented, have tons of experiences whether that be socially, in extracurriculars or in jobs. We are always itching to have a chat and share what we know, to bring value to all members in the society. So if you’re someone who wants that, and you actually want to learn and become a sponge, then we welcome you to join us and have these conversations to build yourself up! Because if you become the best possible version of yourself, you build other people around you. This goes towards that infinite mindset where you leave a job, university or society, you leave it in a better shape than when you came.
I have a few things to add, and this is to the first part of the question, the type of person who should apply. It’s those who want holistic development. At some societies, you might get a lot of career development because their main value add is to boost your career, however the personal development part might be missing. If you want the social experience, you can join hobby clubs like sports and dance right? But if you want a mix, where you get to know people, have fun, but you also care about growing professionally and developing useful skills, I think that’s the type of person that would benefit the most from B1. If all you want to do is have fun, party every single day, you will still fit, but I think you won’t get as much as someone who wants to develop in all areas of their life.
Now, for the interview tips, although I’m not gonna be interviewing, my personal tip, which is the most generic one ever but it’s still true, and that is to be authentic. Actionably how you be authentic is to cut through the fluff. So don’t overprepare and over-manufacture the six dot point answer that you have memorised. Don’t read off the script. Have a few dot points about what you think is really important to say. And then speak on the spot. Treat it like a conversation. I think too many people prepare, especially young students, because they don’t know how to actually connect with other people in the interview setting, which is normal because you’re nervous. But I think if you overprepare and you’re nervous in the interview, that will come off a lot worse than being less prepared but being more authentic, genuine and having a sense of humour.
The other thing is, and this is not as common. If you have a particular problem space or industry that you are interested in, talk to that a lot. This is especially important for the consultant program more than subcomm. Talk to that a lot if you can, even ask your interviewers at the end, “do you have any clients in the past that you've worked with that tackle this particular problem space?”. Whether this be providing medicine to rural areas or providing scans to help surgeons. Whatever you’re interested in. I think if you have a problem space or industry you’re interested in that you want to work in the future at a startup, that would really go a long way.
Q3: In a lot of the testimonials on B1’s Facebook page, people mention B1’s incredibly fun and supportive culture. What are some of your experiences with this special culture of B1 and did both of you expect this before joining?
The thing that separates B1’s culture from other societies is how down to earth, friendly and welcoming everyone is. Some societies have a tendency to form cliques, which can easily evolve into the alienation of newcomers. For someone who came from overseas and did not attend a Sydney selective school, these traits can easily feed into that consequence.
But coming into B1 I didn't feel any of that. I felt really welcomed. Everyone was really keen to meet me, and no one was intimidating. I could literally pop up to anyone and ask them for advice, help or mentorship.
On another note, a funny experience I had with B1 is when I first became growth director under Derek, my Vice President. We were planning to get dinner on a particular day, but both of our birthdays were around then. So I was organising a cake and inviting people, and you know, just organising a classic birthday surprise dinner. But at the same time, Derek was also organising one for me. So he was reaching out to the same people I was reaching out to, and we were trying to surprise each other. In the end, that night was such a disaster because we were both just hiding in the same restaurant. It was a terrible surprise for both of us, but it was very wholesome. And things like this speak to how within the portfolios, we really do care for one another. We try to make every occasion special, even though during COVID sometimes it can be hard.
Even before I joined, B1’s reputation was quite well known throughout UNSW as a super social society. I always saw pictures of the exec and board going out hiking, going out to get yum cha, and just being friends, not colleagues. That was something that really attracted me to the society. We have the rest of our lives to work a nine to five job, but where can we find a similar community after uni? We are all in the same period of our lives, we are all struggling, we are all learning, we are all striving for similar goals.
So those are some of the experiences that I've had with B1 and I hope that continues this year. And I hope that the rest of B1’s directors and subcomm also experience it for themselves.
I avoided all business societies for literally three years, and I do stand by exactly what Ava said.
I’m obviously a domestic student, I didn't come from overseas. I'm not exotic. But I do think there is a really strong pipeline from existing schools to certain professional societies. And that pipeline literally has certain proportions of people from the same school, going into certain societies. Just choose a society and choose a school, and there seems to be some existing pipeline, which to me is ridiculous, right?
Society is a place for you, as we've already said in the previous question, to make friends, to grow as a person, to have a lot of fun, and to learn useful skills, right? It's not a place for you to just hang out with your friends that you already know because you can do that outside of the society.
So in terms what are my experiences with B1, and did I expect this? No, I didn’t because I had this impression that all business societies, people are only in it for two reasons. One is to stick around friends you already know. The second reason is to stack your resume.
It never occurred to me that there would be a business society that actually cared more about, let's say, making friends and having fun, and helping other people and having that be the priority above stacking your resume and all these other kind of superficial things. I think there are maybe one or two other societies in the business realm that are like that, but not many. And I can tell you for a fact, it's very, very rare to find a society that year upon year, prioritises helping other people, growing together, having fun and making memories.
I think the Publications team probably know this, having recently talked to a lot of our alumni, this is true year after year, after year after year. It's not like one year's good and then the next year is bad because that happens in a lot of other societies. In B1, there seems to be this unspoken thing that has been maintained throughout the years.
Favourite memory or like a good memory, hmm, I’ll just give a few random ones. I don't know why remember this, but we went on a board road trip early last year.
I remember playing this board game, Poetry for Neanderthals. And back then, I felt like I hadn’t laughed that hard for a really long time. Kevin Huynh, who's a really really smart director became super, super, shockingly dumb. He just couldn't play this game. He kept on, I don't know, it's not gonna sound as funny when I say it, but he just looked like a complete idiot and made our team crumble. He was also playing this game with Derek who’s also really smart. He was a beast at this game. And literally every single time we would go for Kevin and Derek. We were all just like, what the heck is going on? Why is this guy so dumb? I just remember laughing really hard.
Another memory is doing a case comp with the B1 consulting lads. And I usually am not a fan of case comps because they're not as useful if you are an older student with previous work experience, but we just did it just for fun essentially. It was pretty lit. We were grinding it out at like 2 or 3am and realised we were a group of four guys doing a beauty case comp, pitching a supply chain solution to their head of beauty.
Q4: What are your visions for B1 in 2022 and where would you guys want b1 to be three to five years down the track?
1. The people are the biggest assets
Since applying for B1’s subcomm in 2019, I’ve had a variety of really positive experiences with B1, but there are some areas where I believe we can do better. These things are mostly internal facing, centred around giving back to the board of directors, subcomm and consultants. Because I believe if you’re a part of any society, the people are the biggest assets and we should really be treasuring them as people who can give value to the society through knowledge, friendship, social initiatives. And one way is to be really intentional in what value we are providing to everyone. Are they getting the training they need to become a successful future consultant or in whatever industry they want to enter? Are they getting value in their social lives? Are they making friends? Do they feel like they are a part of the family? Do they feel supported? These are all questions I hope will be answered positively this year.
2. Improving internal processes and making things streamlined
Secondly, on a lot of the internal facing narrative, I would love for the processes and procedures in B1 to be perfected. I feel like there were gaps in the walls last year, which we could have easily fixed if we took a microscope and really looked closely into why something was ineffective. For example, why is this process taking so long? Why is there a lack of communication? So really taking apart every process in, let's say, a marketing request, or event request, and asking how do we rework this and make this better? So that the people down the line can focus on more innovative or dramatic strategies that they want to put forth, not being bogged down by something simple.
Yes, so improving a lot of the internal processes and making things streamlined. But I'll leave it to Harrison to talk about the big picture and what he sees three to five years down the line.
1. Building a community
There are a few different things, I’ll go through them one by one. The first one is building a community or a safe social space for people. So what I mean by that is, societies, generally speaking, are supposed to offer their committee members a place to make friends and a place to always come back to. However, I've seen that especially in business-related societies, the emphasis on actually getting to know people, making genuine connections, trying new things together, growing together, and especially keeping friendships after their society term ends is not always done well.
So one of my visions is internally focused; just building a community for the people who are in it. That is, the people who are in board or in subcommittee and the consultant program this year, I want them to have access to each other and be able to create opportunities for them to meet each other. Because the people you meet at uni, if they're the right people, often last long into the future.
2. Establish the B1 brand and network
The second thing is to establish the B1 brand and network, which is a little bit different from what I would say mission or vision. So by branded network, I mean, who do we target? Who are the people who have come through in the past and who is going to come through in the future? Can we define exactly who B1 should be targeting? What type of student they should be and what their interests should be? Can we also connect all the really smart, amazing, driven, altruistic people who have been in B1 in the past? And can we bring everyone together from both past, present and future to make sure there's one single community where people who have a shared interest can mingle and learn from each other?
3. Creating a functioning society
The third thing I want to try to do this year is more related to creating a functioning society. I’m not saying that I know what I'm doing, or that we all know what we're perfectly doing. But it takes a lot of diligent effort, a lot of investment into processes, a lot of caring about people's development, a lot of seeking out mentorship and constant feedback to improve what you're doing, to be able to create something of value.
So what that means is that I feel like if me and Ava can create a society that has everything that she said before. So processes is the one really big thing, but also a really strong feedback culture; really, really clearly defined, meeting cadences and structures; and a way to consolidate everything together communication-wise. If we have all these boring kinds of process-related things down pat, it actually makes the process for everyone else so much easier and streamline. This will allow them to focus on the things that actually matter, such as skill development, because instead of cleaning up random things that they shouldn't be cleaning up, they can actually just focus on their portfolio and develop the skills associated with that portfolio.
4. The B1 program should become the best professional work experience
The fourth one is related to the consultant program more so than the board and subcommittee, and this is more of my vision for the future I guess. And that is, the B1 program should become the best professional work experience you can get that isn’t an actual internship at uni. Because if you think about what you have access to at uni, not many programs actually give you a real experience with a client.
So B1 is kind of unique in the sense that it's one of the few programs that is connected well to industry and can improve in the future. So if we can leverage that as our core strength, that is, everyone who enters the B1 Consultant Program leaves with a holistic, professional foundation that they will be able to use and develop to go on to do anything in the future. And I think that's kind of what has happened in the past, but it hasn't been completely solidified and fleshed out. In three to five years, as the startup ecosystem grows, I think the program should grow bigger. But as we are getting more distinguished clients, we should reach a point where the B1 Consultant Program is essentially just considered no different from your first internship at a distinguished firm.
For example, you wouldn't even have to look externally for an internship at Canva. It would just be like, oh, B1 is already partnered with Canva, so I will just go through the program which most of the time will convert into a paid internship. So if we could reach that level of client and that level of conversion, I think that would be my vision for the upcoming years.
5. Have a funnel that connects students to the startup ecosystem
The very last thing is B1 is one of the only societies at UNSW that effectively connects students to real startups. The current lack of a strong startup focus at UNSW means everyone who is interested in startups literally just does not touch a university society, which to me is baffling. It's like you have thousands of undergrad kids who are interested in startups, there's not a single society that they can walk past at an O-Week stall and be like “hey, I need to get involved with those guys”.
So I think the last thing is more for the broader Australian startup ecosystem, but I think that each uni realistically should have a funnel that connects students to the actual ecosystem. And right now, there is no university-level funnel. the only funnel that exists right now is mainly Startmate which is Australia wide, but they don't have the people, labour and individual university access to be able to reach these people.
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Interviewer and Editor: Lynne Jiang