As curator and lead facilitator of Interchange, I led a team of 20 speakers, facilitators and digital storytellers. I was responsible for the co-design of the innovation program, selection of speakers, facilitators, mentors and volunteers as well branding, operations, budgeting and stakeholder engagement.
This $150k project, partially funded by Study NSW aimed to enhance employability and develop entrepreneurship and leadership skills in international students from multiple disciplines.
The program still runs annually at participating universities.
Universities across Australia are having serious issues in retaining numbers of international students due to several factors (employability, changing immigration requirements, limited local networks, work experience, cultural barriers). Five of the leading NSW universities, together with the government department Study NSW collaborated to create Interchange, an entity formed as a joint effort to solve this overarching problem.
Create a complimentary training programme focused on entrepreneurialism, actionable teachings and real-world problems to empower, engage and retain international students. By taking this problem outside of the university (open innovation model), the programme could be designed using lean methodologies rather than traditional academic processes - making it reactive to ongoing feedback. Additionally, students received introspective upskilling including empathy training, skill mapping and interviewing/pitching skills which proved invaluable for the student cohort to put their new skills into practice. The biggest learning was that without the change in behavioural triggers, upskilling falls flat and old habits reappear.
What Did Interchange Involve?
- 16 hours of interactive hands-on workshops led by high energy facilitators
- Short, sharp TED-styled content delivery
- Action led learning environment with ongoing support and coaching
- Expert advice and conversations with NSW based business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs
- Introduction of new tools and startup methodologies for experimentation, fast iterative learning and intuitive leadership
What is Interchange?
Bringing together 200 international students from five universities, Interchange is a five week innovation program that helps students find their inner entrepreneur.
The program takes students through the innovation process, delving into design-thinking, sharpening their business acumen, improving communication skills and teaching the art of storytelling all whilst giving students an immersive experience in solving real world problems.