Management consultant Kiara Olrich knows she needs to stay ahead of the curve if she wants to continue to be an effective leader in the future.
As the latest recipient of the prestigious Luminis AGSM Wharton Business Innovation Scholarship she is well on her way.
“My career launched with an internship at Nous Group, an award-winning management consulting firm,” Kiara says. “I have thrived in the purpose-led, high-feedback, high-performance culture and progressed to a Director role.
“Now I want to invest in and prepare myself as a leader for the future of work. I want to be on the front foot of accelerating technological changes, and strengthen my skills in data analytics to complement my consulting problem solving skills.”
Kiara will spend the next 16 months mastering these skills as part of the AGSM @ UNSW Business School’s Full-Time MBA 2021 cohort. Thanks to her scholarship, co-founded by AGSM and the Luminis Foundation, Kiara will study at the highly respected AGSM and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania – and will have the opportunity for a work placement in the US.
“I chose AGSM for three reasons: they are one of the only business schools in the world to have 50% women in their full-time program. They have global partnerships with top business schools across the world for exchange opportunities and the location in Sydney means I can continue living close to my family, friends and my community,” Kiara says.
“What excites me most is I have the opportunity to study at AGSM and get to know a really tightly knit cohort of diverse people. Spending half the degree in the US and experiencing a world-leading school (Wharton) is very exciting.”
Gaining a global perspective is very important for Kiara. Previous contracts in the US have made her realise what she can accomplish when she’s pushed out of her comfort zone.
“It really emphasised what I love in my work: engaging with clients, building relationships, and problem solving. I have gained a real appreciation for diversity of cultures.” This is key to becoming an effective leader.
“Being a good people manager is important because employee engagement is critical to performance, productivity and profitability. Being able to listen and respect people's different perspectives and bringing this all together as a leader helps you achieve so much more. Ideas and inspiration for innovation are really fuelled by a curiosity to learn from other people,” Kiara says.
Innovation is critical to the success of business in the future. To be selected for the Luminis Scholarship, MBA candidates have to demonstrate a record of business innovation. Kiara’s natural curiosity coupled with the robust communication, observation and experimentation skills she developed in her Bachelor of Science degree from UNSW have helped her make significant innovative improvements to business processes at Nous.
“In 2013, I coordinated the improvement of our recruitment practices. Our existing processes took too long and were not effective in helping us identify the candidates who were well prepared for a role in management consulting,” says Kiara. The project involved researching options for an online assessment tool, consulting with colleagues, running a pilot program and overseeing the implementation and integration of the tool.
“It has helped us manage efficiency and effectiveness and provides a candidate experience that is really consistent with our value proposition. It helps candidates learn about what makes us different and about management consulting, and gives them a good sense of who we are.”
One month into her MBA program at AGSM, Kiara is excited about what the coming months have in store.
“The whole cohort spent the first few weeks together, which allowed us to build very strong relationships in a short period of time, which will benefit all of us in the long term,” she says.
“I'm looking forward to the technical aspects and the opportunity to practice, reflect on and develop my resilience and listening skills. I think the special thing about the Luminis Scholarship is that it will push my leadership skills and enable me to build relationships and rapport quickly,” Kiara says.
As for the future, Kiara is keen to make a positive impact in the next stage of her career.
“I’ll be looking for any opportunity to apply my strengths in empathy, teamwork harmony and problem solving to deliver really important outcomes for the communities I live and work in and that I care about.”
AGSM scholarships offer support to future leaders from diverse backgrounds and provides world-class education and opportunities. Find out more about the Luminis AGSM Wharton Business Innovation Scholarship and others here.