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Best and brightest Dalyell students tackle the tough issues

13 February 2020
For every wicked problem there is a wickedly smart solution
The world is awash with "wicked" problems, and for small business startups in New South Wales, one of them is a highly confusing and often frustrating web of government departments, forms, approvals, agencies and regulations that must be satisfied.

Of course, there is a solution to every wicked problem, and University of Sydney students Jagen Yoon and Josh Mok pitched their solution to the state's bureaucratic conundrum at the prestigious Business Dalyell Wicked Forum.

The duo's ability to insightfully cut through the complexity of the problem is not surprising given that Jagen and Josh are in the University’s Dalyell program, which is offered to commencing students who have achieved an ATAR (or equivalent) of 98 or higher.

Jagen Yoon is studying a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws while Josh Mok is studying a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws. Their winning Business Dalyell Wicked Forum pitch brings a myriad of government services together in one entrepreneur-centric interface, resulting in a seamless customer service experience.

Business Dalyell Wicked Forum winners Jagen Yoon and Josh Mok, pictured with Dr Sandra Seno-Alday and Associate Lecturer Carlos Vazquez Hernandez.

There are around 2,500 students now in the Dalyell stream, which offers access to a greater breadth and depth of learning through accelerated enrolments, mentoring programs and development opportunities.

In addition to standard units of study, Dalyell scholars, including nearly 600 at the Business School, undertake additional units designed to "challenge their thinking."

"The Business Dalyell program aims to help our talented scholars appreciate the challenges of a complex world," said Program Director Dr Sandra Seno-Alday. "We collaborate closely with industry partners to co-create turbo-charged opportunities to stretch the imagination and capabilities of our students."

Over the past year, the Business Dalyell program has partnered with technology giant IBM. 

"With the ever increasing rate and pace of change in technology and expectations, Australian businesses and government are struggling to keep up in terms of the skills and innovation needed to keep the Australian economy on the front foot," said Ben Peterson, Head of Developer Advocacy, Start-ups and Academic Initiative of IBM Australia and New Zealand. 

"IBM is excited to be able to play a key role in engaging with and directly linking the biggest challenges facing the economy with the brightest minds, thereby dramatically reducing innovation cycles and placing real-world, real-time business challenges into the hands of our future leaders and workforce to solve."

"In 2019, we set the brilliant University of Sydney Dalyell Scholars the extremely ambitious task of solving a challenge that has troubled the largest and most innovative companies in Australia for some time: 'How do we support and nurture neuro-diverse teams to be able to thrive and perform at their best while maintaining an incredible culture?'" Mr Peterson said.

The latest Business Dalyell Wicked Forum was also run in close collaboration with IBM and was aimed at challenging some of the University's top minds to pick apart and propose ways to address specific complex issues.

We were absolutely blown away by the depth of thinking, innovation and pragmatism shown by the Dalyell Teams that pitched their amazing concepts.
Ben Peterson, IBM

"It was clear that they had all done an amazing amount of user research and tested their ideas in real-world scenarios to ensure they were able to iterate rapidly," said Mr Peterson.

"The confidence and charisma displayed by the teams shone as bright as the summer sun which caused our judges to sweat beads when faced with the task of deciding who to award the (Forum) prize to."

"In the end, it is Australia which will be the big winner as a new generation of leaders emerges, having already leant in to challenges that many of our top boards are tripping over. So thank you, Sandra and the Dalyell Team. The future has never looked brighter and we have never been more excited to see what's next. Wicked problems...your days are numbered," Mr Peterson concluded.

This year's Forum guests included Bridget Tracy, IBM’s Chief Digital Officer for Australia and New Zealand.

"IBM supports the Dalyell program because we can provide the students with an ecosystem in which to learn and ultimately, we are the beneficiaries of the skills that they gain," Ms Tracy said. "We also have a wide range of clients who can provide students with insights into real world issues."

Other teams in this year's Forum included one which developed a way of encouraging young people to take more interest in superannuation, another which worked on designing an on-demand transport system for the State, and a team which tackled the wicked issue of the Victorian Police Force's public standing.

During the judging event, the Dean of the Business School, Professor Greg Whitwell, named IBM the Business Dalyell program's most valued partner.