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15th August, 2018

MYOB IT Challenge –  fostering New Zealand business innovation

The MYOB IT Challenge first appeared as a competition at The University of Auckland – now it’s a national event that rewards students for their bold ideas.

In 2015 the MYOB IT Challenge began as a way of rewarding students for creating real solutions to business problems in partnership with the Management Consulting Club, part of The University of Auckland’s Business School.

Since then, the challenge now includes students from New Zealand’s largest universities – with participants competing in groups of two, three and four.

Each group has just five days to work out an IT-based solution to a business problem and prepare a 10-minute pitch.

Their solution pitch is followed by 10 minutes of Q & A with a panel of industry experts where the student groups are expected to field questions about relevant technical aspects and marketing strategies.

The result? Winning teams then compete at the national finals against their peers from other universities to develop a working prototype of their solution for a cash prize pool of $5,000.

More importantly, they gain access to graduate recruitment opportunities and highly practical, business-problem solving experience.

“The MYOB IT Challenge has innovation at its core,” said MYOB CEO, Tim Reed.

“Technology is revolutionising the way we live, work and play – and young people can be at the forefront of this change, creating products that are intuitively easy to use and deliver real value to Kiwi business owners.”

“Year on year, we see entries that demonstrate entrepreneurial and disruptive thinking – the very traits that are needed in the New Zealand tech industry today.”

READ: Practical accounting education made possible by MYOB


Relevant experience for a high-tech world


Competitions like the MYOB IT Challenge has benefits at many levels for businesses, students and education providers.

For education institutions, these partnerships fit neatly into their aim to provide students with practical, on-the-job experiences.

In the case of the MYOB IT Challenge, it’s an opportunity to get hands-on with widely used business software.

Students benefit from the opportunity to apply what they’re learning, showcasing their skills and creativity to potential employers, and giving businesses a clearer idea of their potential as future workers.

And MYOB sees the importance of these initiatives as highlighted by modern business conditions.

“Companies today are seeking a different kind of person – hiring graduates has evolved from looking for technical competency, to looking for the ability to collaborate and work as a team,” said an MYOB spokesperson.

“The MYOB IT Challenge offers young Kiwis exactly that. It’s gives tertiary students ‘real-life experience’ of a team environment, while growing New Zealand’s tech talent pipeline.”

MYOB engineering protégé manager, Mark Pearl, sees the competition rewards entrepreneurism, but it’s also rewarding for the participating judges.

“What makes this competition so unique is that it encourages the kind of entrepreneurial mindset that’ will have a key role in shaping how New Zealanders do business in the future,” said Pearl.

“As a tech business, MYOB is all about creating innovative solutions that solve real-world challenges, so we’re excited to see what new ideas Kiwi students come up this year.”

READ: What role do corporates have in education?


Challenging and inspirational


MYOB IT Challenge participants praise the initiative, with some graduates working for MYOB after their graduation.

In Douglas Shephard’s case, he’s gone from showcasing a solution with his peers in 2017, to showcasing another solution to those same peers in 2018 in their roles as MYOB workers.

“I presented at my first IT Challenge last year, pitching an AI-based business management solution with two teammates,” said Shephard.

“This year we developed a new add-on for MYOB Essentials. It was particularly humorous to find one of my prior teammates on the other side of the judges’ table.”

Mika Siddiqui has competed in every MYOB IT Challenge Auckland Regional since it started and says he continues to come back for the uniquely practical outcomes the initiative provides.

“Year after year our teamwork skills have become stronger as a result of the competition,” said Siddiqui. “Another skill that I feel developed in a big way are my public speaking skills.

“I’ve never been a great public speaker, but the MYOB IT Challenge has allowed me to develop stronger presentation abilities.

“This is particularly important to me as I’m better able to convey ideas more comfortably, which has also resulted in me being a more confident person.”

Follow #MYOBITChallenge for all the action from this year’s event or visit the website for more details.

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