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The Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) is delighted to announce the winners of our annual Network Awards, which recognise and reward innovation and excellence in Australian business schools.

The awards align with, and have been judged by panels from, ABDC’s professional management, international education, teaching and learning, and research networks. This year the judging of a new Climate Action Award has involved the ABDC’s Climate Action Fellow.

The winners highlight how business and management thinking and research continue to positively impact societal and environmental challenges and contribute greatly to Australia’s universities.

ABDC Award for Innovation and Excellence in International Education

Sagar Athota, Senior Lecturer, University of Notre Dame

Team member: Associate Professor Sean P. Kearney


  • Dr Sagar Athota and Associate Professor Sean Kearney have led the India Immersion Program in Tenali, India. They and over 100 student volunteers, who have been part of eight immersions in nine years, have developed a charity that has built a government-approved residential school for at-risk and mostly orphaned children.
  • The program is based on the premise that social justice and educational opportunity can be drivers for reversing generational poverty and discrimination.
  • Immersion students have pre-departure classes, in-country debrief sessions, and post-immersion reflection classes, which provide the opportunity to learn from their experience, challenge their belief systems, help shape their worldview and sharpen their career goals.
  • Panel comment: The program goes beyond the standard immersion program by providing tangible work-integrated learning opportunities to students with a focus on service learning. Over an extended period, the program has provided benefits to the host community through an ACNC-registered charity and built a residential school that employs 20 people in the community. The charity is now an ongoing program partner.

ABDC Award for Innovation and Excellence in Professional Management

Lauren Richardson, Librarian, Sydney Business School University of Wollongong


  • The Executive MBA (EMBA) course has a high number of domestic mature-age students, many of whom have never, or have not recently, studied at a university. A gap analysis of study skills identified that many students are unfamiliar with academic research and need inbuilt flexibility to cope with their studies.
  • To assist students in developing the necessary academic skills and increase their student experience, the business school librarian has continuously developed a librarianship skills program that ensures students have access to high-level support when they need it.
  • The program includes workshops that continuously develop and sustain study and time-management skills; a self-paced Academic Skills Module; a student-centered approach to student support with one dedicated librarian coaching and mentoring; a blended approach that ensures all supports fit students’ lives; and collaboration with learning development academics.
  • Panel comment: The panel is impressed that the multipronged program Lauren has established firmly meets the criteria of having a measurable impact within the University of Wollongong. It enhances something that is currently in use and adapts it to the current needs of MBA students. The fact that it has now been utilised in industry is exceptional and shows its scalability to the wider university community.

ABDC Award for Innovation and Excellence in Learning and Teaching

  Katrina Mohamed, Senior Lecturer, Monash University

Additional team members:

  • Robert Brooks
  • Jacinta Elston
  • Nick McGuigan
  • Kathy Ilott
  • Fiona Bertoli
  • Karen McRae
  • John Page
  • Jamil Tye


  • The Masters of Indigenous Business Leadership (MoIBL) program is Australia’s first Indigenous-led business master’s program, co-designed by Indigenous business leaders, Elders and business school academics.
  • MoIBL removes barriers that have traditionally prevented Indigenous students accessing and succeeding in tertiary education. It places Indigenous knowledge systems first and creates a culturally competent and engaging learning environment for Indigenous peoples. Students practice culture and ceremony, and participate without interrupting their jobs, family or communities for long periods of time.
  • The degree is delivered in face-to-face intensive mode with a cap of 25 students to ensure personalised learning experiences
  • MoIBL covers business environments, leadership and performance, organisational strategy, Indigenous design thinking and relationality, project management, accounting and finance for business, international law and global immersive Indigenous business experience through North America.
  • The offering, which directly addresses the diversity gap in senior-level corporate Australia, is transforming lives.
  • Panel comment: The panel notes the high calibre of submissions for this year’s award. In selecting the winner, the panel was impressed with the focus on Indigenous co-design and leadership in the MoIBL program. The program’s emphasis on personalised and immersive learning experiences led by Indigenous business leaders, Elders and academics demonstrates excellence and innovation in removing barriers to Indigenous students accessing business education.

ABDC Award for Innovation and Excellence in Research

 Associate Professor Simon Angus, Department of Economics and SoDa Laboratories, Monash Business School

 Additional team members:

  • Klaus Ackermann
  • Paul A Raschky


  • In 2018 a remarkable milestone was reached when more than 50% of humanity became connected to a single global technology, the internet. The internet is arguably the transformational technology of our time, and is impacting all aspects of business, social, and economic activity worldwide.
  • Studying its impact requires statistically accurate, consistently measured observations at high temporal- spatial granularity over vast scales.
  • In 2013, the Monash University team embarked on a multi-year project to join an extensive dataset on internet activity that had been collected by a group of network engineers over several years. The ground-breaking result joined internet activity and location datasets with over 1.6 trillion observations.
  • It taught the team what was needed to leverage at scale the applied empirical and causal tools to tackle major research questions at the intersection of modern communication, political mobilisation, digital human rights, and political economy,
  • In 2017, the team established the Monash IP Observatory – a unique data gathering virtual instrument that can passively, safely, remotely and scientifically measure the activity and quality of the internet anywhere on the planet.
  • Today, the Observatory operates from six continents, has been running continuously since Feb 2019, and has generated over 15 TB of uniquely granular geo-spatial data on the internet.
  • Panel comment: The panel is impressed with the utilisation of the Monash IP Observatory by government and multi-government agencies, the legal community and investigative journalists, including the application of the underlying technology in commercial applications. Positive testimonials from real-world users demonstrate the impact of this innovative dataset.

ABDC Award for Innovation and Excellence in Climate Action

  Associate Professor Jean Canil, Adelaide Business School , University of Adelaide    

  Additional team members:

  • Professor Ralf Zurbrugg
  • Dr. George Mihaylov


  • Suitable insurance products for agribusiness do not currently exist but this research provides a foundation for multi-cover insurance that incentivises climate-friendly behaviours and minimises negative intergenerational effects on climate change.
  • The team aims to equip Australian crop farmers with the knowledge to enable them to reduce overhead costs and manage volatile domestic growing conditions through new mechanisms for effective climate-change planning.
  • The research, funded by a grant from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), includes interviews and surveys with the main insurers in Australia and a wide range of crop farmers. That has been supplemented with secondary data to evaluate how a range of agricultural insurance policies align with climate-friendly behaviours.
  • Researchers intend to scale up the project, with the support of DAFF, to trial the development and pilot the release of tailored structured weather derivative products to a limited number of farmers. This will help them to understand the factors that will drive up-take of the product and how well the product will be received.
  • Panel comment: This team demonstrates the role of finance and financial products in climate resilience in partnership with other disciplines, industry and government. The outcomes present the potential to transform the role of finance and the development of financial products to enable climate resilience in the agricultural sector. The method and approach could be replicated in other sectors. The panel commends how the learnings have been disseminated in public and policy forums. This encourages translation into higher education that could further advance climate capabilities of finance professionals.
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