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MBA Capstone: Design Strategy

Develop and pitch a new product design to a corporate partner
Our MBA Design Strategy capstone unit has produced more than 100 graduates and generated 30 business propositions across three sectors.

The Capstone Unit is the final unit of our MBA and involves a world-class learning module in the field of strategic management, intersecting with principles in design thinking and product engineering. Students develop a real-life working prototype over a period of 4-5 weeks, based on a commercial problem, embedded in the strategic roadmap of our partners.

Students receive intensive mentoring from faculty staff and coaches, access to strategy documents and stakeholders within the partner organisation, and the opportunity to work in diverse, high-performing teams. If the prototype is successful, the corporate partner may invest or develop the product further after completion of the unit. Students may also go to market for independent investment and support.

The Capstone Unit is based on design strategy, and tracks a team's progress week by week.

Initially, your team will be given a top-down strategy problem with clear customer implications. Your team then works from the bottom up to define customer needs and develop solutions. Finally, your team will integrate its emergent prototype with the internal demands of stakeholder organisations. This top-down/bottom-up approach is the essence of design strategy, an approach that optimises both learning and commercial engagement.

The Design Strategy unit is a highly intensive learning experience. You should aim to have minimal work and outside commitments while completing this unit. It will help you to understand and apply entrepreneurial models such as design thinking, lean start-up, and the lean business model canvas. However, this unit also extends beyond these tools by embedding them within a large, complex organisation and set of stakeholders.

Founders

Our founders are responsible for overall leadership of the capstone unit and selected deliveries within the MBA.

  • Dr Eric Knight, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research – Enterprise & Engagement), The University of Sydney, Associate Professor in innovation and strategic management, The University of Sydney Business School
  • Dr Ginger Turner, Adjunct Associate Professor, The University of Sydney Business School, Senior Economist, Group Strategy, Swiss Re
Teaching fellows

Our teaching fellows are responsible for leading deliveries of the Design Strategy unit within our partner organisations.

  • Jarryd Daymond
  • Christopher Murphy
  • Natacha Ng
  • Joshua Ratilal
Coaches

Our coaches are expert mentors to student teams, and are selected based on their recognised expertise in design strategy and effective communication.

  • Aaron Blishen MIDEA ’19, Director, Myndful
  • Benjamin Brokken MBA ’18, Director, KPMG
  • Scott Davies MBA ’17, RBC Investor and Treasury Services
  • Hannah Dunn MBA ’18, NSW Department of Planning and Environment
  • Angus Edwards MBA ’15, Zentivo
  • Phil Gray MBA ’17, Senior Manager, Segment Strategy, CX & CVP, IAG
  • Willis Gray MBA ’15, 3wks
  • Jessica Hughes MBA ’15, Commonwealth Bank Australia
  • Greg Jansz MBA ’16, UBS Investment Bank
  • Elise Karadjian MBA ’18, Retail Manager, Van Cleef & Arpels
  • Murray Lawson MBA ’18, FTI Consulting
  • Ash Moollan MBA ’17, Commonwealth Bank Australia
  • James Moore MBA ’16, Commonwealth Bank Australia
  • Zoe Morrison MBA ’18, Executive Officer, The University of Sydney
  • Chris Murphy MBA ’15, Tiagra Investments
  • Hugh Simpson MBA ‘15, Ernst & Young
  • Derek Taprell MBA ’18, Manufacturing Manager (Externals), Saluda Medical
  • Holly Varshnei MBA ’17, APA Group
  • Ashlea Wallington MBA ’18, Incubate

We typically work with organisations once they have identified a customer issue to which they are planning to commit budget. We supervise the coordination of teams and interactions with corporate partner stakeholders during the course of the unit.

Over the 4-5 weeks, teams produce a well-defined, mock-up prototype and gather important consumer feedback. This consumer-focused design process enables teams to develop a business case at a lower cost than traditional corporate product engineering.

Current partners
  • Swiss Re
  • Department of Defence
  • uBank
Expressions of interest from organisations

We are excited to partner with organisations that are interested in building a long-term relationship with the University of Sydney Business School. In return, we bring value to complex problems through our interdisciplinary, high-impact teams.

If your organisation would like to be involved with our Capstone Unit, please contact eric.knight@sydney.edu.au or find out more