WIL Leadership Vignette 13:
Karina Wardle and Dr Pheroza Daruwalla
What was learned from this:
Context of the event, experience or activity:
The University of Western Sydney has offered a hospitality program for the last 22 years. WIL has always played a central role in preparing graduates for work in the industry even though it may have been called Practicum, Experiential or Problem Based Learning or Engagement.
Graduates reflected and acknowledged the benefits of the 'hands on' approach and the reduction of the town and gown divide. Karina's networks and supervisory work experiences led her to liaise for the development of a series of projects between a Registered Club and the hospitality program. The divide between reflection, research and practice along with a desire to have relevant, meaningful engagement between industry partners and tertiary educators to build capacity and create sustainable relationships led to the project's implementation.
Description of the event, experience or activity:
The project commenced with four operational areas of a Registered Club identifying areas that they wanted 'researched'. The projects were embedded in a service industry research unit where theory was applied to professional practise and the solving of real world problems. Processes involved numerous meetings and visits with the relevant operational managers ‘mentoring’ the projects. The topics included the re-design of menus for food outlets, development of a plan for the shopping arcade owned by the club, development of ways to attract a younger market segment and addressing cultural issues around gaming in a distinctly ethnic socio-economic demographic market. Students immersed themselves in the project, getting ethical clearances, interviewing and surveying a wide range of stakeholders ranging from shop leasees to locals using the train station and their views on redevelopment and usage patterns of the club. At the culmination of the projects a formal presentation and documentation was submitted to the board of the club and management team.
Sustaining the relationship meant subsequent students found employment opportunities and most recently a group of mainly international post graduate students were hosted for a visit and to be educated about the Registered Club sector. At this visit students got to see plans that impact urban regeneration of the suburb and business accompanying the building of large railway infrastructure. Managers of different areas canvassed working practises including the use of social media, gambling, smoking and drinking legislative practises and the impact of building a new casino to their business. International students unfamiliar with and unlikely to ever visit a Registered Club got to broaden their horizons and increase understanding of club management. In return club management got to hear about hospitality practises in other countries and contexts.
The interactions benefitted all participants with club management getting useable, no cost data, students getting an opportunity to work on real world problems and have a tangible product to include in their work portfolios. For the academic it created an enduring relationship and access to industry expertise invaluable in the refinement of curricula and as members of External Advisory Panels.
Ms Karina Wardle is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Sydney. Dr. Pheroza Daruwalla is a Senior Lecturer in Managementat the University of Western Sydney.