Griffith Business School Gala Dinner goes waste-free to celebrate a remarkable year

Griffith University students, staff, alumni and industry partners gathered together in celebration amid the resplendence of the Hilton Brisbane’s Grand Ballroom last week at the annual Griffith Business School Gala Dinner.

This year’s event featured an innovative, waste-free menu inspired by the night’s keynote speaker, OzHarvest founder and honorary Griffith doctorate recipient Ronni Kahn.

Designed by Hilton Brisbane’s chefs, the menu was based on the ideals of minimising food waste, ensuring that as little produce as possible went unused.

Professor David Grant addresses the audience at the 2018 GBS Gala Dinner.

In his opening retrospective for the gathered friends of GBS, Pro Vice Chancellor (Business) Professor David Grant acknowledged Ms Kahn’s “incredible contributions to social entrepreneurship, sustainability, innovation and social impact”, and explained the University’s partnership with Hilton Brisbane had arisen in honour of the revered social entrepreneur.

“Tonight, we’ve partnered with the Hilton Hotel to ensure our event is food waste-free,” Professor Grant said. “This wonderful initiative supports Ronni and OzHarvest’s food rescue mission.

“The chefs have designed a menu that uses ingredients top to bottom across all the courses, and any surplus food will be collected by OzHarvest and distributed to their charity partners for those in need.

“A big thank-you to the Hilton Brisbane for their support of this initiative and for sharing GBS’s vision for sustainability and responsible leadership.”

One lesson that became swiftly clear during Ms Kahn’s Q&A with GBS Dean (Engagement) Professor Anne Tiernan is that this precise vision must extend beyond mere mantra and good intentions; in fact, the time for action has never been more immediate.

In explaining OzHarvest’s new campaign, Fight Food Waste, Ms Kahn said: “There is no national consumer campaign to teach us how not to waste food, and … $20 billion of food goes to waste every year in Australia, of which $10 billion is caused by [individuals].

“Now, I might be talking to the converted, but the point is some of us — many of us — still need to understand what we can do.

“So we’ve been working very closely and we will be working very closely with the likes of Griffith University to look at research how to look at human-centred design to change behaviour, because these problems are very complex, and we need support, research and understanding as to how to solve, shift and change them.”

Ms Ronni Kahn during her keynote Q&A at the 2018 GBS Gala Dinner.

In the face of a seemingly insurmountable problem, Ms Kahn assured the audience that their actions at an individual level can still have far-reaching impacts.

“I think the exciting thing is that we all have the potential to do is something,” she said. “For some of us, that might be a bigger action, and for some of us, it’s a smaller action. But in each and every one of our homes, for example, we absolutely can minimise food waste.

“We have a new mantra: Look, Buy, Store, Cook … Research has shown that we, households, waste the equivalent of $3800 a year. Who doesn’t want to save $3800 a year?

“By looking what’s in your fridge, looking what’s in your pantry and making a shopping list, by buying what you need, by storing it appropriately, using the freezer as a pause button, and cooking what you bought and eat — not wasting it and using it as leftovers — even if you adopt one of those things, you’ve all taken action.”

In addition to Ms Kahn’s galvanising address, the Gala Dinner paid tribute to the remarkable students, staff and industry partners who have helped make 2018 such a success for the Griffith Business School, seen in results such as its ranking at #1 in Australia and #2 in the world for Hospitality & Tourism in the 2018 ShanghaiRanking Global Ranking of Academic Subjects.

The evening saw the acknowledgement of 2018 Outstanding Alumnus Award winners Amanda Hodges, Caitlin Pearson, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins and Thanuj Goonewardena, as well as the announcement of Cara Turnley as the winner of this year’s QBM-Griffith MBA Responsible Leadership Scholarship and Marissa Bowden and Sarah Schoeller — founders of The Village Markets, in Burleigh — as the 2018 Outstanding Entrepreneurial Alumni.

The efforts of GBS students Eden Peterson, Jake Matthews, Enoch Pun, Denis Vukova and Andrea Crespo Wong — who collectively shone on the national stage with a second-place result in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Research Challenge — were also recognised, alongside their mentors Dr John Fan and Mr Ken Howard.

In his speech, Professor Grant also highlighted the efforts of students Max Punin, Matthew Neave and Caitlene Hillman, currently on an all-expenses-paid trip to New York as finalists in the annual Point72 Academic Global Case Competition, coming up against teams from a range of respected international universities.

In a Griffith Business School first, Gold Coast Hospital & Health was awarded the inaugural title of Outstanding Industry Partner for its ongoing support of, and commitment to, GBS, its vision and mission, with the board’s chairman, Mr Ian Langdon (incidentally, the founding Dean of Business at Griffith), accepting on the company’s behalf.

However, as successful as 2018 has been, there is always room for improvement and, in light of that, Professor Grant outlined the journey ahead for Griffith Business School on the road to achieving its forward-focused, future-ready goals in 2019 and beyond.

“Tonight is always a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and reflect on what we — the GBS community — have achieved so far,” Professor Grant said. “But, of course, we can’t stand still. There’s a whole lot more work to be done.”

“Our mission is to work with the government, industry and social communities that we serve in order to deliver outstanding business education and scholarship and in doing so contribute to a sustainable, equitable and prosperous society,” he continued.

“Achieving that is what’s going to make us a world-class and internationally renowned business school, one that’s fit for the dynamic Asia-Pacific region that we’re in and one that Queensland can be proud of.”