The Lean Capstone – Finishing in Style

By Graeme Hibbert, recent graduate of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program

Having just completed the Lean Capstone, an experience that can only be classified as one of the most intense, high pressure, all-encompassing, albeit fantastic, rewarding educational experiences of my life, I thought it was a good time to reflect on how far I had come in my MBA journey. Some key facts and figures about me; six years has seen two universities, marriage and two (nearly three) children plus two job changes. Now I find myself approaching the final stages of my MBA.

When I started the MBA I was in my early thirties, unmarried without children, in a role with no leadership or management responsibilities nor was I being intellectually challenged at work.  I decided it would be a good time to embark upon a post-graduate qualification. I felt I had some time on my hands to fill – how times have changed. In 2010 I decided on the MBA and started my studies at another university.

Making the Switch to the University of Sydney MBA

My decision to move to the University of Sydney Business School in 2014 was prompted when I was determining my major. I had a strong interest in entrepreneurship and innovation and wanted this to be the central focus of my major.  Whilst researching I found that the University of Sydney MBA and specifically “The Lean Capstone” with its focus on experiential learning and business partnership was a strong fit for me.  The Capstone became the prime contributing factor for me deciding to make the switch. I’m glad I took the plunge.

Along the way there have been other standout features of the program, specifically the strong industry ties, as well as the experiential “hands on” learning focus. Having the opportunity to analyse real business problems for diverse organisations, such as The Iconic, Sinclair Knight Mertz and Swiss Re has been extremely eye opening and has allowed me to apply different perspectives to problem solving within my own organisation.

Bringing it all Together – The Lean Capstone

The Lean Capstone brought all of the elements of the MBA together in a single, intense burst of a subject. Working with a well-respected industry partner in Swiss Re required the need to work in a group for a common purpose, within intense timeframes and performance pressures with a great deal of ambiguity, utilising lots of LP & D (Leadership Practice and Development – this first unit in the MBA) skills. The entire focus of the capstone was rapidly iterating and building a start-up in four weeks, culminating in a pitch to investors.  Very Silicon Valley!  Luckily we had a wealth of experience in course coordinators Eric Knight and Ginger Turner to steer us through the process.

In addition to the skilful guidance of the course coordinators, the soft skills and tools learned during the MBA were integral in enabling the team to perform and produce such a high quality project.   The pitches were well received by an audience of senior executives with two of the four teams having follow-ups to discuss taking their start-ups forward.

Whilst the Lean Capstone has finished, the team has continued to develop our idea and will be looking to commercialise it in the near future.  The Capstone reinforced my interest in the innovation and start-up space and has helped me build the skills, network and resilience to pursue a career in this area.  So watch this space!

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