Late Nights Ahead for Design Students

Yes, the Cormack Awards are on again with design students from the leading universities competing for one of the most practical design competitions in Australia.

Students from the University of Technology Sydney, the University of New South Wales, the University of Canberra and Monash University are this year busily creating designs to meet the brief for the Cormack Award.

The Cormack Award is regarded as one of the most practical awards, as the competition criteria and judging is done by people working in FMCG, beverage and pharmaceutical companies, the same people that one day will be commissioning designs from these students.

The awards culminate in the Presentation Night which this year will be held in Sydney in October. Past winners of the award include Tim Bird and Frag Woodall who are both working with Cormack.

Strategy in Practice

Strategy is an abused word in Australia as it is often confused with tactics. You can be regarded as strategic even if all you do, is vary the price of your products.

Strategy is all about choice, choosing to do something or choosing not to do something.

Michael E. Porter puts it like this:

" the essence of strategy is choosing a unique and valuable position rooted in systems of activities that are much more difficult to match."

Porter's HBR Article can be found here.

Getting to the strategic purity of Porter's is difficult for most companies as the hardest thing is to say no to some customers. However I have run across one Australian company that does not have that problem. ASP Plastics of St Marys in Sydney run by managing director Paul Brennan has a clear idea of what they do and don't do:

  • They do NOT take business from their competitors. They do NOT compete on price.
  • They DO find new niches and exploit them. If exploiting the new niche requires new skills, they find them.
  • They do NOT get emotionally attached to any product. If its attractivesness falls, they walk away.

This is a simple list of "What we do and What we don't do" but it is working for ASP as parts of its business are growing at 300%!

Nestle Great First Half

As it is financial reporting time, we aim to provide you with concise information on the performance of the major consumer goods companies. It was our original intention to provide this in one post but now it seems better to provide them individually.

Nestlé has reported a great first half result that exceeded not only the analyst's predictions but also their own internal forecasts. Their growth was 8.4% up on last year's result. The growth included 5.3% real internal growth and 2% price increases.

Stand out performances came from their Nestlé Nutrition product group which grew at 10.5% and their Nestlé Waters group which grew at 10.3%. Even their monster Nescafé and Nestea brands grew around 10%.

The Nestlé press release is here.

Nestlé's result is outstanding in the ultra competitive but stable food sector. Commentators have attributed their result to their anticipation of the demand driven increases in raw material prices which Nestlé responded to by hedging and putting through price emptive price increases on their own products.

Nestlé also tightened their management controls and increased their corporate transparency by rolling out a new global IT platform. Lastly they were successful in containing costs with a number of projects.

The Financial Times provides more analysis here and here.