Otago Polytechnic
CORP staff EvaGluyas 001

Breaking out of silos

Eva Gluyas

Imagine a new opportunity, challenge the status quo, interact and empathise with the customer, prototype, test, evaluate and then reiterate. This is the philosophy of Eva Gluyas, then Commercial Strategist and Manager of workSpace, Otago Polytechnic’s former business solutions enterprise.

Four years ago, Eva and colleagues Steve Silvey, Ruth Appleby and Gavin Clark, had a vision to create six-week intensive entrepreneurial ‘boot camps’ called SEED (Student Enterprise Experience in Dunedin) for a small group of highly-motivated participants.

Although the boot camps included a taught element, they were not a traditional course, instead relying heavily on self-learning, self-exploration and experiential action. Unlike start-up weekends, the focus was on creating collaborative networking as opposed to a competitive environment using empathy mapping, user-centred design thinking and lean business principles.

“What we noticed over the course of these SEED events was that they really changed the way the individuals thought about problems and opportunities,” Eva notes. “Having participants from a variety of disciplines including marketing, commerce, design, IT, medicine, chemistry, law and others enabled great things to happen where the edges of these disciplines met.”

The results of the follow-up surveys showed that as a result of the boot camps, perceived entrepreneurial ability and knowledge significantly improved. In addition, the number of participants who indicated they would like to undertake further formal study in entrepreneurship doubled from the time of starting the course.

“This research prepares students for a changing global employment context in which traditional salaried jobs are slowly being phased out and self-reliant income generation will soon become the normal employment situation. What we did was show people how to adapt and make that leap by thinking wider and breaking out of narrow lenses,” says Eva.

 

Cornwall, J., Kirkwood, J., Clark, J., Silvey, S., Appleby, R., Wolkenhauer, M., Panjabi, J., Gluyas, E., Brain, C. & Abbott, M. (2015) Can a short intensive course affect entrepreneurial ability, knowledge and intent, or further entrepreneurial study? An assessment of the SEED programme, Dunedin, New Zealand. Industry and Higher Education, Volume 29, Number 5, October 2015, pp. 397- 404(8).