There are times in one's life when it's hard to completely comprehend the significance of an experience until we decide to look at it again in retrospect. The opportunity to work for The Smith Family was one such time in my life.

The Smith Family is a 90-year-old independent non profit organisation which supports children's education and learning in Australia. My motivation to work for this organisation was extremely high due to a personal ambition of working to improve the life of children. In addition to this, The Smith Family was a professionally run organisation showing continuous growth in their operations. The opportunity was made available to students through the School's Career services and turned out to be an immensely involved and enjoyable internship for me.

The project required me to define The Smith Family's market, do a comparative analysis with the competitors operating in the same space, and make an estimation of market share on the participation (people supported) and the engagement (donors of time and money) side of the business model. AT Kearney, the consulting partners for The Smith Family also agreed to be the official mentor for this project and were generous with their time, which gave me the opportunity to work closely with their consultants throughout the project.

The project was extremely challenging and it took me some time to scope the work required and to come to a conclusion. The Senior Management come from highly successful corporate backgrounds and I worked closely with them and the CEO on this project. My discussions with the management helped us to see some of the challenges being faced by The Smith Family in a completely new light. The management brought to the table their vast pool of knowledge of the Australian not for profit sector as well as The Smith Family and at the same time I was able to provide a fresh perspective of looking at the problems in a true business sense. This amalgamation of resources helped us scope out the project and work towards the right direction.

The project turned out to be highly satisfying for me as well as the management. The internship concluded with me making a final presentation to the CEO and the senior management. In addition to the insights gained through the required outputs, I was also able to make some recommendations for long term growth strategy.

The opportunity to work closely with the senior management of The Smith Family (which had revenues of over AUD80m in the FY 2008-09) as well as with the consultants from AT Kearney, Sydney (with some inputs from the senior partner)has helped me tremendously to understand the consulting industry as well as the challenges faced when working with senior management of a large organisation. I am happy and proud about the fact that my work will have an impact on the lives of the disadvantaged children and their families in Australia.

I would like to thank Elaine Henry (CEO) and the senior management of The Smith Family for this opportunity. I would also like to thank Jeremy Barker and Pierre-Marie Despontin from AT Kearney for being so generous with their time. Further, I am thankful to the faculty of Melbourne Business School, especially, Prof. Patrick Butler, Dr. Jody Evans and Prof. Geoff Lewis for helping me out with some dead ends in the process.

Finally, I am thankful to the careers department at MBS as well as to the alumni for their kind support, which made this internship possible during the tough times of recession. This has been and will continue to be a highly rewarding experience filled with learnings for me.

I hope we continue to receive such support in the future to contribute to the 700,000 Not for Profits organisations in Australia which employ over 8% of the employed population of Australia and benefit hundreds of people throughout the country. In addition around 34% of the adult population volunteer for these organisations and we believe our contribution of providing a business perspective to these organisations can help bind the society together as well as make these organisations sustainable.

Ashish Raj Verma
MBA (Class of 2010)
Melbourne Business School