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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 19. 3rd August 1972

Business grads are ready and able, but is business willing?

page 24

Business grads are ready and able, but is business willing?

Earlier this year National Business Review ran an article that looked at some of the Business Administration courses being offered at New Zealand universities. Although Business Administration is a well-established and important subject at British, American and Australian universities, it is still very much in its formative stage in this country.

In this article six recent B.C.A. graduates who majored in Business Administration at Victoria University of Wellington discuss the subject, their expectations of its usefulness and the reality, and the attitude of poetntial and actual employers

Members of the special N. B. R. panel were David Boswell, oil company executive; Philip Dewe, accountant on study leave; Westbrook Haines, producer board production/marketing executive; P.J. Holland, general manager of N.Z. Ballet /Opera Trust; Kerry O'Malley, cigarette company personnel manager; W.J. Watson, full-time B.C.A. Honours student.

N.B.R.: As Business Administration 3 is a practical, rather than esoteric, subject you presumably all expected to make an immediate and real use of the qualification.

O'Malley: By majoring in Business Administration and psychology 1 did have a particular aim in mind A very basic knowledge of Personnel management which I could, and did, peddle for an acceptable price in the market place. But it is certainly true that the material one dealt with - case studies for general managers and managing directors, etc - could create unrealistic expectations if one was not, like I was, a part-time student.

Watson: The value of Business Administration is that you see the total picture, how everything ties in. How your position ties in with the organisation and how the organisation ties in with the environment.

Haines: That doesn't help you in terms of a career, does it? Business Administration codifies-relationships, but you have to take your specialization outside of it.

Boswell: I'd be inclined to agree with you - your Business Administration gives you a broader understanding of a company, but when you go in there you have to choose one aspect and prove to your boss that you can do the job well.

I don't think Business Administration helps you directly but it might make you feel a bit more stable. Business Administration helps me, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the job I've got if I'd taken it on its own.

Dewe: Yes, but it's this awareness of all the other factors that makes you perform your job in a more efficient manner than you would have if you had concentrated solely on economics.

Boswell: Not at first. Not when you're in the lower echelon of an organisation and given fairly men I tasks to do. It would help you when you became a manager or controlled three of four people, but at first I don't think it's much help at all.

Holland: Surely it helps you to know who to turn to if necessary, and even the toes to avoid standing on?

N.B.R.: Obviously Business Administration is a general, wide ranging, not a highly concentrated and specialized subject. Do university staff teach it this way and are students aware that it is not a sure-fire entree to managerial tycoonery?

Holland: I'm sure staff are very aware that it's a background subject. But no doubt some students think they only need to pass Business Administration to become managers. Of course, they soon face reality and end up with no illusions.

O'Malley: Business Administration is one of those interdisciplinary subjects. Most other traditional majors or stage 3s are in specialist areas. Business Administration meshes together a number of units so that one has a working knowledge to fit into a business environment. With this knowledge you can do something.

Holland: I don't think a B.C.A. majoring in Business Administration is intended to turn out a finished product any more than a B.A. in French.

N.B.R.: After you qualified, what kind of reaction did you get when you want job hunting?

Holland: I'd never have got the first job I applied for after graduating with a Business Administration major, if it hadn't been for the qualification. I'd never have made the short-list for the position - General Manager of the Opera/Ballet Trust - without the B.C.A. (Business Administration) on my application. Not that you can just put down B.C.A. in Business Administration. There's a wide range of subjects beneath that and you've got to specify those applicable to the particular job. And in the end, of course, it's your own personality that does or doesn't get you the job.

O'Malley: I wouldn't appoint a chap to a job that I was interviewing for if he came to me with just a Business Administration major.

Boswell: I should think a boss thinks that business administration is his job and you're being employed to do something very different.

Holland: Yes, but who is going to apply with only a Business Administration major?

O'Malley: That's right. But it is possible to major in just Business Administration. Professor Fogelberg at Victoria University wants a double major degree — Business Administration and one other specialist qualification, which is, I think, the ideal.

Boswell: I did a double major in economics and Business Administration and I'm sure I wouldn't have got my present job without the economics. They didn't know what Business Administration was — it sounded good but they weren't really interested.

Holland: What about personnel managers? The ex-Army type seems to be disappearing, but the acceptance of Business Administration is very uneven.

O'Malley: There would have been greater acceptance had the universities known from the beginning what they expected of Business Administration.

Holland: I wonder whether we're dealing with slightly closed minds in the personnel field?

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