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MBA graduates Kate Francis-Mulder and Rob Stankiewicz

MBA capstone projects: your fast track to industry experience

Published 9 Feb, 2024  ·  5-minute read

If you’re considering studying a Master of Business Administration (MBA), it’s likely you’re hoping to increase your understanding of core business concepts while also expanding your network and gaining industry experience. One of the key ways you’ll do this during the UQ MBA is via the MBA capstone project.

This essential component of the program will also help you solidify everything you’ve learned and prepare you to take the next step.

Here’s a breakdown of what a capstone project is and why it’s so beneficial for our MBA graduates – along with some MBA capstone project examples.

What is a capstone project in the MBA and how can it help you gain business experience?

An MBA capstone project allows students to work with real industry clients on solutions to their challenges or explore their own entrepreneurial project. Over 13 weeks, you’ll have the chance to put everything you’ve learned during your studies into practice with your choice of 1 of 2 capstone courses: Entrepreneurship or Industry Engagement.

Whichever capstone project you choose, you’ll gain practical experience in leading real-life business decisions.

Entrepreneurship MBA Capstone Project

Entrepreneurship is about more than startups. While you can work with and for startups as part of this project, entrepreneurship happens in all sorts of organisations. If you have a corporate innovation or a service or product development idea, entrepreneurship and innovation skills can help it grow.

As part of this capstone project, you could work on your own business idea, alongside a startup, with a small to medium enterprise or in a large organisation. You’ll learn how to interrogate and explore a new business venture at its inception. You’ll also get familiar with best practice processes to increase the success of a new venture, startup or idea.

Who you’ll learn from

Cameron Turner is an Entrepreneur in Residence and Industry Professor at UQ Business School. He has founded 4 startups commercialising world-first innovations. He has over 30 years of experience researching problems, developing solutions and transforming ideas into sustainable competitive advantage.

Practical skills you’ll develop

  • Innovation
  • Ideation
  • Creativity
  • Research discovery
  • Customer discovery
  • Lean startup and agile tools

MBA capstone project example: Siobhan Coster

Siobhan Coster

"I chose this capstone because I really wanted to develop my entrepreneurial skills. That’s the direction I wanted to go with my career, and I had a business idea that I wanted to test. As part of the course, you learn how to apply entrepreneurial theory to validate, build, grow and scale businesses. I was particularly interested in innovation and how to apply that to my future career.

"The team present you with a few different companies you’re able to work with on your project, and at the time I did my capstone, one of these companies was CSIRO. As a result, I put my own idea on the backburner and eagerly threw myself into exploring the opportunity CSIRO presented us with."

"During this project, I worked with CSIRO and 2 other students to investigate how we could identify commercialisation opportunities for this amazing technology CSIRO have called precision fermentation. We came up with a food technology startup, which uses this technology to sustainably make crucial nutrients from yeast, starting with lactoferrin – an immunity-boosting nutrient found in breast milk."

"Since graduating, I have continued to work on the startup with CSIRO as a venture builder and am on a mission to make crucial nutrients, such as lactoferrin, more accessible."

MBA capstone project example: Jan Bodnaruk

Jan Bodnaruk

"I chose to complete the entrepreneurship capstone and focus my learning on starting my own engineering company, which had been my goal from the beginning of the program.

"Over 13–14 weeks, I was able to identify what my clients wanted, what problems they wanted to solve, and how I could implement solutions to those problems.

"I had particularly great mentorship from the professor who was able to guide me through the whole process.

"The capstone was assessed based on our understanding of what we needed to do to make sure our business would be viable and successful. For the purposes of the assessment, it didn’t matter if the business would be successful in 10 years’ time; it was more about making sure we understood the process of researching whether our idea and ventures were really something the market needs and whether there were clients for it."

"I was able to use all the learnings from the MBA but particularly this capstone project to start my own company, BB Civil, 2 weeks after graduating."

What it’s like to complete the Entrepreneurship MBA Capstone Project

Watch UQ MBA Entreprenurship Capstone Experience on YouTube.

Industry Engagement MBA Capstone Project

During the Industry Engagement MBA Capstone Project, you’ll work in high-performing teams to interrogate and research a strategic business problem for an industry partner from the corporate, not-for-profit, government or startup sector. As a team, you’ll become sector experts as you work with your client to examine and explore strategic recommendations that respond to 'wicked' problems.

If you’re looking to work in dynamic team environments, engage in high-level strategic problem solving and gain experience working with clients from a broad range of industries, this is the capstone for you. It's also a great option if you’re thinking about moving into consulting.

Who you’ll learn from

Associate Professor Nicole Hartley is the Director of UQ’s MBA program. She works closely with companies, particularly those in the healthcare, technology startup and social enterprise sectors. Here, she provides marketing and stakeholder engagement expertise to help advance the adoption of technology-based service interventions nationally and globally. She also speaks regularly on leadership skills and capability, particularly leadership qualities that address current business dynamics.

Associate Professor Nicole Hartley and 2 MBA students

Practical skills you’ll develop

  • High-level stakeholder management skills
  • Client engagement and negotiation skills
  • Working collaboratively with a high-performing team
  • Complex business problem solving
  • Research discovery skills
  • Formulating strategic recommendations
  • Pitching to and influencing a senior management team

Examples of previous capstone project partners

  • Suncorp
  • Anglicare
  • Autism Qld
  • Queensland Police
  • SRO Technology
  • Brisbane City Winery
  • Australian Robotics
  • MS Queensland
  • Tritium
  • MEC Mining
  • Brisbane Arts Theatre
  • Brisbane Marketing
  • Children’s Health Queensland
  • Workcover Queensland
  • Australian Superannuation Funds Association
  • Magpie Goose
  • Boeing Research and Technology
  • CS Energy
  • Queensland AI Hub

What it’s like to complete the Industry Engagement Capstone Project

Watch UQ MBA Industry Engagement Project with City Winery on YouTube.


Which project will you choose and where could it take your career?

Learn more about the UQ MBA

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