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MBA story Siobhan Coster

Siobhan’s MBA story: improving global access to nutrition

UQ people
Published 9 Feb, 2024  ·  5-minute read

How can we feed a growing global population without costing the earth? It’s not an easy question to answer, but Siobhan Coster is working with CSIRO towards one solution – a sustainable, scalable and accessible form of nutrition.

Two years ago, Siobhan was running her own ecommerce business selling sustainable products like menstrual cups and reusable makeup pads.

But she was missing something.

With a background in nutrition, she decided to advance and cement her passion with business experience by enrolling in the UQ Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Once she started the program, Siobhan realised the practical business skills she was learning could easily apply to her career.

"I was able to apply a lot of what I was learning to my ecommerce business," she says.

For example:

  • The Operations Design course helped Siobhan implement inventory tracking spreadsheets and improve how she was operating the business.
  • The Strategy course helped her look at the future and new ways of using her business.
  • The Management Frameworks course provided a unique opportunity for personal development and helped her understand her values.

Explore the courses you’ll study as part of the UQ MBA.

Siobhan Coster

The impact the UQ MBA has had on my career has been incredible. It has literally changed the course of my career direction for the better.

Siobhan Coster
Master of Business Administration

Studying in a supportive community

It was important to Siobhan to connect with and learn from the other students in the MBA cohort.

"I travelled from the Sunshine Coast to attend MBA classes in Brisbane because connecting with your peers and your lecturers in person is so valuable," she says.

"There are things you can learn from others when you’re in the same room that you’d miss out on if you only studied online. For example, there were so many times people shared their individual experiences off-the-cuff in conversations between lessons or outside the classroom."

"The UQ community was another one of my favourite things about studying at UQ. You really feel like you’re part of something more, something bigger than yourself."

"It surprised me that I didn’t need to feel as intimidated as I first thought; everyone’s there for the same reason – for personal and professional growth," says Siobhan.

"Before I started the MBA, I thought everyone would fit a certain mould. But there’s so much diversity between the people studying the MBA because of their backgrounds or their career paths."

Throughout the program, Siobhan valued the support she received from peers, lecturers and other staff at UQ. And as she continued to develop her business capabilities, she became interested in learning more about other career opportunities.

"I accessed a lot of career support as a student, particularly when I was starting to look for work towards the end of my degree," says Siobhan.

"The MBA Careers and Professional Development Team helped me in so many different ways. They helped me identify potential positions, careers and industries within my area of interest, update my CV, and prepare for interviews. They are an incredible resource to be able to lean on."

Watch UQ MBA: Siobhan Coster on YouTube.

Siobhan’s in-class capstone project led to a new career path

MBA students can apply what they’ve learned to real innovations or business ideas during a 3-month capstone project focused on either entrepreneurship or industry engagement. Siobhan chose to enrol in the entrepreneurship capstone.

"I really wanted to develop my innovation and entrepreneurial skills, because that’s the career path I wanted to pursue," she says.

"I had a business idea that I wanted to test. As part of the course, you learn how to apply entrepreneurial theory to build, grow and scale businesses.

"At the beginning of the course, the MBA team present you with a few different companies you can work with. At the time I did my capstone project, one of these companies was CSIRO.

"During this project, I worked with CSIRO and 2 other students to identify commercialisation opportunities for this amazing technology CSIRO has, called precision fermentation. We came up with a nutritional ingredient startup, which uses this technology to sustainably make crucial nutrients from yeast, such as lactoferrin, an immunity-boosting protein nutrient found in breast milk."

At the beginning of the project, CSIRO told Siobhan that if she could validate the market need, she could pitch her business idea to them.

"This is how I ended up in the position I’m currently in, where I’m working with CSIRO as a Venture Builder on a food technology startup."

Siobhan Coster

Siobhan's startup, Eclipse, aims to create a new way to source vital nutrients and become one of the world’s top suppliers of nutritional ingredients. The traditional process of creating lactoferrin relies on 10,000 litres of dairy milk to get just one kilogram of lactoferrin. This nutrient costs an average of $1,500 per kilogram, but has been known to cost as much as $5,000 per kilogram. As a result, the nutrient is in short supply globally with a lot of formula-fed infants missing out on this crucial nutrient.

Working with CSIRO and using precision fermentation, Siobhan hopes to create this nutrient using yeast and achieve economies of scale. Ultimately, better access to this nutrient will be a great step towards improving the wellbeing of our ever-growing global population.

The technology also has the potential to benefit adult consumers through supplements and functional drinks.

Learn more about the capstone projects you could complete as part of the UQ MBA.

Supporting the next generation of women in the MBA

Siobhan is also passionate about closing the gender gap for entrepreneurs and in the venture capital funding space. She received the 2021 MBA Women’s Leadership Prize. And in 2023, Siobhan and 7 other MBA students and alumni launched the UQ MBA Women's Network.

"The UQ MBA Women's Network is a new community we’re building to support and connect women throughout their MBA journey and beyond," she says.

"As women, we are a minority in the cohort, and we want that to change."

"I’m now working in a field that combines my two passions, food and nutrition with business. Without having studied the MBA at UQ, I wouldn’t have the opportunity that I have now."

Learn more about the UQ MBA

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