Please indicate if your Initiative is an Established Initiative.
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
Overview - Provide a summary to introduce the project or initiative
"People born here get jobs. People who migrate here create jobs" - Ben Burge, CEO of Belong
A few years ago, Gerard and Domenic gave up their corporate jobs to help solve the problem of employability for International Students. A major part of their focus was, and still is today, on empowering international students and graduates to participate in the Australian startup ecosystem.
To support this cause, Outcome-Hub was launched in November 2016. Outcome-Hub is a co-working space in between University of Melbourne and RMIT with an open door policy for internationals to visit, spend time, engage and even actually start a business (e.g. iDibs, Infinity Spoon, Friend Theory, Qrious, JetSport and many more). Refer to the Outcome-Hub launch video in the attachments.
Outcome-Hub has already hosted 60 events and welcomed over 4,000 people this calendar year which are all designed to inspire internationals to participate in the local startup community.
The core of the project is facilitating the placements of international students into internships with startups in Australia, having now made well over 100 placements in to the startup ecosystem. These startups not only gain the advantage of having a culturally diverse business but many of the interns have become valuable long term team members (see the Durga / Mentor Loop video in attachments) or even start their own business.
But the project doesn't stop there. To achieve greater cultural diversity in the sector by connecting even more international students with startups, an online market place, InternMatch, was created.
How would you say diversity is embraced within your organisation or sector? Are there diversity initiatives in place or are diversity approaches new to your sector?
We predominantly operate in 2 sectors being International Education and the Startup Ecosystem.
It is obvious that International Education is culturally diverse but the major problem is that international students are actually not integrated adequately in to the local business community. International students engaging with other international students does not embody the cultural diversity that is required for this vitally important industry to be sustainable in the long term.
It has been well publicized that the startup ecosystem has been predominately represented by white males. Should an international student wish to start a business or become part of the local startup ecosystem it can be particularly difficult to even know where to begin. One of the main barriers is the difficulty and time it takes to build a professional network within Australia.
A major focus of Outcome.Life is the integration of the migrant community, particularly international students, to the local business community, particularly startups.
Many International Students have grown up with their parents running their own businesses and so the appetite for International Students to be more engaged in the startup community is high. It was the evidence of this appetite that inspired us to start Outcome-Hub in the first place as every time we would be a guest speaker at a University we would be inundated with questions about startups, entrepreneurship, starting a business or just being able to work with a startup.
Obtaining engagement for cultural diversity on the startup side of the fence is a little bit more difficult . It is easier to hire people who are the same as you than someone different. Our approach to tackling this, with great success, is by introducing international students and graduates to startups through internships. This has become a safe way for business leaders to work with people from different backgrounds, religions and beliefs in a safe and understanding environment. It breaks down some of the barriers.
We also practice what we preach in our own organization and have hired 9 staff who started off with us as an International Student intern and as at July 2018 have provided employment to 19 internationals (people not born in Australia).
Detail the approach that was taken to implement the project or initiative, what actions were taken and why?
Our original business model has evolved significantly into the current model it is today. At the very beginning, we tried to solve the problem of empowering international students to make better choices as to where they study in Australia. We soon realised that we were focusing on the secondary problem.
The much bigger problem international students face is actually being able to get a career related job and / or having a support mechanism should they wish to start a business or be engaged with the local startup ecosystem.
So after listening to hundreds upon hundreds of international students we pivoted our business model to focus on:
- Connecting international students in to the business community to provide them with a stronger network from which to leverage.
- Placing international students in to businesses, particularly startups, by way of internships as part of their educational work placement.
- Developed a comprehensive events calendar focused on entrepreneurship and new technology to make safe and friendly introductions. An example of this is an event we hosted on React Native where 4 internationals in attendance ended up getting jobs.
- Launched Outcome-hub so migrants interested in starting a business had a home and support network to get started.
- Built the online platform, InternMatch, so we could connect more international students in to startups and other businesses, at scale.
Demonstrate the leadership shown in driving the initiative and fostering behavioural and organisational change.
The greatest asset that the founders of Outcome.Life have is that we have come from the 'business' world back in to 'Education' as opposed to the other way around.
Driving interest from International Students to engage with the startup ecosystem is easy. Driving interest from the startups themselves can be more difficult.
The founders have thus become the advocates for International Students and encouraging more and more businesses to engage. Having now placed over 1,500 International Students in under 2 years we believe we are having an impact in driving change.
Internally, we have empowered our own software developer staff to adopt our own version of 'Google Time' which we call 'Give Back Time'. All of our own software developers (over 10) are empowered and encouraged to allocate some time each week to invest in international students or graduates who want a career as a developer. There is no experience like real experience and so being able to learn from experienced developers when starting out creates incredible opportunity. This is all made possible by Outcome-Hub where internationals feel welcome to turn up, be valued and can learn, practice and execute. An example of this in practice is Nischal Guatam from Nepal who learnt React at Outcome-Hub from our staff. Nischall now has a job as a React developer. Another example is Durga Shrestha who first learned React inside Outcome-Hub before being placed with MentorLoop (Refer the video on Durga in the attachments https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xIco1PU-HlsPjXFd7kvE5LvXU05rTjpv/view).
After all, we were all once the 'new kid' and relied on someone else more senior to train and mentor us. At Outcome.life we have a particular focus on provide training and mentoring to international students. Refer to the 'Leaders Series' video in the Attachments which was created by some International Students on the What, How and Why of Outcome.Life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJO7kZLuw00).
As leaders, it is up to us to drive the culture of our organisation and that we don't just give our objectives lip service. The founders, Gerard and Domenic, believe in acting by example and personally spend a large amount of time with international students and graduates to mentor and provide advice. It is essential that the leaders authentically set the example at the top in order to flow through the rest of our organisation.
Was there organisational/industry or other resistance to the initiative? If so, detail the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative.
We face barriers and resistance every day from businesses. The fact is that there can still be a lot of push back (conscious or unconscious) when it comes to embracing different cultures in the workplace and this is also no different in the startup community. In fact, as the size of teams are smaller in startups it can at times be worse.
Some of the reasons we hear from businesses about not wanting to take on an international student for a work placement includes:
- "Their English won't be good enough"
- "They won't fit in culturally"
- "They are going to leave soon anyway"
- "We don't have time to teach them"
- "They don't have the right skills"
- It is just a 'No' as soon as they see a foreign name on the CV (this happens)
To overcome these barriers we spend most of our time:
- Educating businesses on the benefits of cultural diversity in any organisation.
- Educating businesses on why taking on an international student as an intern can be a great way to experience the benefits of cultural diversity.
- Talking to businesses about their ambitions to expand globally and point out that having team members, no matter how junior, from the target countries can be hugely advantageous.
- Educating businesses on how important International Education is to Australia's economy (and even more so Victoria) and that if we don't provide opportunities for International Students they may stop choosing Australia as a study destination of choice.
- Educating businesses on how motivated and smart many International Students are and how valuable they could be as a potential employee.
- Training the students in Outcome-Hub first on the skills that businesses actually want such as React and Python (we also host the Python Charmers MeetUp where we invite students so they can connect with around 100 Python professionals each month).
An alarming statistic is that currently only 34% of Australian businesses hire International Graduates. Our objective is to increase this statistic to 70%.
Detail the follow up or response to the project or initiative by the organisation /industry /sector. For example has it been extended for a further year, or has the scope been expanded?
Although achieving far more than we anticipated already, we have only just started!
Having placed over 1,500 international students, hosted over 100 events, welcomed over 7,500 people through our facility, supported over a dozen internationally founded startups and developed our online platform in the our first 2 years we are now focused on how we scale our services to help even more internationals engage with local businesses and startups.
The success to date has also meant that we have already outgrown our current facility and we will be moving to new larger location in the CBD in a couple of months. This will enable us to introduce even more international students to the Melbourne startup ecosystem and hold even bigger and better events. Outcome-Hub has also naturally developed in to an EduTech hub and so given the synergies with International Education this will also become a focus for the next 24 months.
The launch of InternMatch enables us to reach even more startups and communicate to them the benefits of taking on an International student / graduate. This strategy is being proudly supported by LaunchVic.
We also continue to be asked to speak at more and more University events to talk about the Victorian Startup Ecosystem and continue to host large groups of international students at Outcome-Hub to work on startup business problems. At the end of the day, if an International student or graduate wants to start a business we don't want them to go back to their country of origin to do it, we want them to launch it here in Melbourne. The economic benefits are obvious!
Just as importantly, we have had inspiring success with businesses who have taken on an international student intern for the first time being enthusiastic about doing it again. Not only that, some of these businesses who were hesitant, at first, have gone on to offer their intern full time employment.
Please provide 2 references being the beneficiaries or people that experienced the change (as a result of the initiative). Details to be provided should include:
4. Phone number
6. Short description (up to 250 words) of association with the nominated diversity initiative eg as a beneficiary, experiencing the outcome, etc.
iDibs - Example of a startup founded by internationals (born in 3 different countries) that we have assisted out of Outcome-Hub. Refer iDibs video in the attachments.
Contact Details: Hao Teo, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0402722038
Durga and MentorLoop - Example of an International who interned at a Victorian StartUp as a React Developer after being trained at Outcome-Hub first and went on to achieve full time employment (and quickly promoted) - refer video in the attachments.
Contact Details: Durga Shrestha, email@example.com, 0433701714 Contact Details: Lucy Lloyd, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0418477361
What outcomes have been achieved against overall program or organisational performance? Using metrics specify these outcomes, for example financial, growth, policy achievement, performance or capabciltiy uplift?
Some of our basic metrics from our initiatives to increase numbers in cultural diversity are:
- Placed over 1,500 international students in to local businesses
- Placed over 100 international students in to the Victorian startup ecosystem
- Hosted over 100 different events at Outcome-Hub with most having a focus on entrepreneurship or startups
- Welcomed over 7,500 people through our facility
- Supported over a dozen internationally founded startups out of Outcome-Hub
But numbers only tell part of the story. A major part of what we do is raising awareness amongst the Australian business community of the value that international students and graduates can bring to their organisations. With that it mind, we recently ran a street poster campaign targeted at raising this awareness for which SBS picked up and ran a story:
This in turn resulted in Hayley Sheilds from the New Zealand Government coming to Melbourne to visit us to discuss how the NZ Government could learn from what we were doing to integrate International Students in to the business community and particularly with Startups.
Our initiatives around cultural diversity have also been covered by 15 media publications over the last 18 months. Refer the Attachments for a summary of some of the media stories.
Additionally, we have also built, pro-bono, the mentoring platform for Mentor (She) for VIC ICT 4 Women to run their mentoring program. We will continue to further develop this platform in future years pro-bono.
What do you consider your significant achievement with this Initiative and why?
Our most significant achievement is not a one-off event but is the overall feedback we get from International Students and other migrants which is an authentic 'Thank You'.
We can put our hand on our heart and honestly say that we have changed peoples lives. Often the act of simply 'opening a door' can have a life changing ripple effect. At one of our recent events where Ben Burge (CEO of Belong) was the key note speaker, Manjinder Singh stood up, unannounced, and told his story about how Outcome.Life had taken him from being a taxi driver to now an ICT Professional at one of the worlds leading digital agencies, Isobar. (see the photo in the attachments of Manjinder with Ben and Paul Breen).
At a macro level, placing over 100 international students in to the Startup ecosystem in our first 18 months far exceeded even our expectations. Likewise, having over 7,500 attend our events with a healthy mix of internationals and local business people also exceeded even our expectations. It is often at these events that the 'integration magic' happens with over a dozen internationals obtaining employment directly from meeting someone at one of our events.
In order to encourage business people to also attend our events it is important that we are innovative in our approach so that we consistently have diverse attendance. An example of this is an event being hosted at the Melbourne Lotus Motor Sport Vehicles dealership with the theme "What do International Students and Lotus Motor Sport Vehicles have in common? More than you think!".
Additionally, we have been:
Who inspires you from a diversity perspective? Who provides leadership in diversity and why?
This might sound a little bit cliche but we are honestly inspired everyday by the International Students that we serve.
International Students are some of the most courageous people you could ever meet. Many have left their entire family back home, traveled to Australia for an education not knowing a single person here and English is a second language.
The barriers International Students confront in many aspects of life are far beyond what they anticipated yet their persistence, tenacity and courage is admirable and truly inspirational.
Despite being 'up against it', we are constantly inspired by the determination and passion of the International Students that we engage with. Some work every day including weekends to bring their business idea to life. Many are so socially conscious that they are pouring all their spare time in to a Social Enterprise. Others are working tirelessly to improve the living standards of their home country by leveraging from their knowledge and network from being in Australia. As you can imagine, it is not hard to be inspired by their courage and tenacity and we are proud to be supporting them.