UTS brought some of China’s most powerful industrialists to Sydney last week to network and debate with local counterparts and senior academics at its inaugural Australia-China Business Leaders Forum.
One of the largest business education providers in Australia and also a hub for China research, UTS demonstrated its local and international influence by attracting a high-powered group of guests and speakers to share ideas on corporate transformation in the face of the global financial crisis.
Around twenty senior delegates from China attended the event from major corporations including China National Petroleum, Gansu Huating Coal Industries Group, Shougang (Capital Iron and Steel), China Mobile and Qingdao Haier.
UTS Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Relations) Dr Rosalind Dubs said equally influential Australian board directors and senior executives were present – from HSBC, Kingold, AMP Capital Investment, Optus, Pacific Magazines and Mallesons Stephen Jaques, to name a few.
"A key aim of the forum for UTS was to raise our profile in the international sphere in terms of business education and research and particularly the leading research taking place within our China Research Centre (CRC) under the direction of Professor Louise Edwards," Dr Dubs said.
"She and her team are leaders in research on social and cultural change in China. Now the CRC is looking to strengthen its capacity and reputation for business-related China research.
"The event was sponsored by the Kingold Group and ANZ, and co-hosted with the China Corporate Culture Institute."
Although unable to be present at the event, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd welcomed delegates with a personal message that reflected on China’s economic growth and the range of commercial opportunities available for both countries.
"Events like the Australia-China Business Leaders Forum, which bring together business leaders from Australia and China, play a very important role in building mutual understanding and identifying opportunities to further develop our already extensive trade relationship," he wrote.
UTS fielded a distinguished group of senior academics to give presentations to a packed breakfast seminar and then later led discussion and debate during the day’s forum.
UTS Dean of Business Professor Roy Green, UTS Centre for Corporate Governance Director Professor Thomas Clarke and environment and corporate sustainability expert Professor Dexter Dunphy led discussions on innovation, risk management and regulation, and corporate change management. Discussion panels alternated between Chinese and Australian case studies.
"Despite the widely differing business and cultural environments, delegates saw remarkable similarity between the corporate transformation approaches used in Australia and China," Dr Dubs said.
A popular international speaker on corporate change and environmental sustainability, Professor Dexter Dunphy said the reaction of local and international delegates to the event had been very positive.
"The breakfast event was excellent, encouraging Chinese and Australian delegates to commence interaction immediately," Professor Dunphy said. "The opportunity to exchange contacts, create familiarity and create networks is extremely valuable to Australian business professionals in the current climate of global business.
"This is also the first time UTS’s CRC has seriously addressed the realm of China/Australia business relations and for it to go so well bodes well for future research in this area."
The Forum finished with a dinner that attracted 100 guests and provided a further platform for engagement and development opportunities. Current and former NSW politicians attended, including the former NSW Premier Bob Carr who gave an address emphasising the importance of Australia/China relations and UTS’s role in fostering these.
"The success of this event is encouraging to UTS," Dr Dubs said. "We will continue working to identify future opportunities where key research areas of the University across our faculties can collaborate with local and overseas business and interest sectors."