Meaningful impact where human meets digital

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Powering possibilities through education for marginalised communities. 
PwC is proud to play an important role in helping contribute to a fairer world by delivering meaningful impact for marginalised communities. As a passionate community of solvers PwC’s Consulting Business, PwC’s Indigenous Consulting (PIC), and alliance partner Salesforce came together in unexpected ways to develop the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME)’s IMAGI-NATION {University} in three months, powering possibilities for progress through education. IMAGI-NATION {University} empowers people from all walks of life and across the world to join forces in helping alleviate inequity by leading their own social change projects. One of the key streams of the {University} specifically focuses on activating youth in marginalised communities around the world to see that they can progress, apply for university, and to achieve their educational aspirations. Igniting their passion to spur action as the next generation of social change agents, “IMAGI-NATION {University} is about giving young people the confidence to pursue their dreams”, says Olympia Newman, Senior Manager, Digital Transformation and Salesforce Marketing Champion with PwC’s Consulting Business.

Transforming AIME into a leading online university.

In 2005, Jack Manning Bancroft (JMB) set out to design a fairer world. Having experienced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage in Australia, and inequity globally, Jack believes strongly in the power of perspective in supporting marginalised people around the world. For Jack, it’s about understanding not only where someone has come from, but most importantly, where they can go. In founding AIME, Jack’s vision and focus has been on building bridges between those who are in power today, and will be in power tomorrow—to reach those at risk of being left behind. The success of AIME has also seen the mentoring model extend to marginalised communities outside of Australia, in countries including Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the USA.

Creating the virtual university of the future for empowering marginalised communities.
With COVID-19 impacting over one billion students globally, AIME needed to act fast to pivot its programs and provide a robust digital solution that would enable the team to continue delivering sustained outcomes for its students around the world. After successfully creating a live mentoring show on YouTube called IMAGI-NATION {TV} (subsequently recognised by Fast Company as a ‘World Changing Idea in Education 2021’), which brought together world-class leaders and mentors like Stan Grant, the Mandela family, Fortune 500 CEOs, and former Prime Ministers in unlikely connections with marginalised youth who host the show and lead its delivery, AIME set their goals towards something even more formidable. With over 16 years of experience, and a healthy dose of imagination and innovation, the decision to approach PwC’s Consulting Business and PIC, in alliance with Salesforce, was made to help create IMAGI-NATION {University} —AIME’s free online university for marginalised communities around the world. The virtual university is designed to create a digital space for students around the world to gain the skills necessary to manifest change in their own lives, and the communities they live in.

A community of solvers, contributing to a fairer world, in three months.
Where human meets digital—the teams from PwC, PIC, Salesforce and AIME came together to make it possible to build IMAGI-NATION {University} in just three months. “Before we talked about work, we talked about values alignment”, says Gavin Brown, CEO, PwC’s Indigenous Consulting. “By aligning across the teams through values, like self-determination, mutual trust was built before any decisions were made”, says Gavin. “In understanding the unique aims and broader ambition, we were able to focus our effort on delivering real value, and quickly. All of the team remained completely focused on outcomes. From this foundation we were able to make decisions and trade-offs quickly, and then take action aligned to this agenda, so that AIME could progress this important work”. With a strong belief that positive change will be achieved through Indigenous empowerment, PIC enables meaningful transformation through Indigenous leadership, diverse and highly skilled teams, and a clear focus on outcomes for clients and communities. AIME’s General Manager, Taryn Marks, adds, “Our decision to work with PIC to lead this complex project was based on the vision of bringing together two Indigenous-led organisations as a collective to help scale and solve seemingly intractable social problems, and show what can be achieved when organisations and communities work in unison, using the strengths of each to create a solution that’s richer and more complete than any single entity could have created.”

With the project team understanding the overarching vision and ambition, and potential of IMAGI-NATION {University}, the project team focused not just on delivering a fit-for-purpose and highly-scalable technology solution on the Salesforce platform, but on supporting AIME as an organisation to successfully pick up this work and to own and drive it, beyond the consulting engagement. This meant really seeking to understand the nuances and needs of potential IMAGI-NATION {University} students. Ensuring AIME would have a viable solution to support students through the pandemic, aligned with school semesters, “we were presented with a 12-month project, in a three-month timeframe”, says Gavin. The team was absolutely committed to doing all that we could do to deliver the right project outcomes, a vehicle itself for delivering equal opportunity through education.

"Our decision to work with PIC to lead this complex project was based on the vision of bringing together two Indigenous-led organisations as a collective to help scale and solve seemingly intractable social problems, and show what can be achieved when organisations and communities work in unison, using the strengths of each to create a solution that’s richer and more complete than any single entity could have created."

Taryn Marks
AIME's General Manager

young man laptop

Solving important problems from every perspective.

While time constraints could have resulted in taking a solution off the shelf, the team were committed to designing a purpose-built experience that met the exact needs of AIME and its communities. While the team explored a number of potential partnerships, the decision to work with Salesforce was key to creating this purpose-built experience.

A high-performance alliance partnership.
“We had a strong view from a technology perspective on how the platform needed to work, but that only came from understanding people first”, says Olympia. All too often, it’s seen that technologists present the tool to solving the problem first, instead PwC starts with people. “It was critical that the platform delivered an amazing, secure experience for students, and AIME, without the need for excessive overhead that would create problems down the road. Time meant trade-offs, but not at the expense of a meaningful experience for students”, says Olympia. Considering all perspectives from staff to students, to cultural considerations and learning challenges, “that’s what human meets digital is all about”.


Making the right decisions, right from the start.
“Since the groundwork was made by aligning on values first, we had a trusted foundation, ready to build from”, says Gavin. A foundation that would enable the team to make the right decisions, right from the start, particularly on the design of the solution. Ching Tan, Director, PIC, leads PIC’s design practice and was responsible for mapping the student journey from the beginning. “We invested in Discovery Workshops to really understand who and what we were solving for”, says Ching. These workshops helped to map out the complexity, streamline thoughts across the team, and unpack any risks. “Our focus in these sessions and across the project was on guiding AIME toward integrated decisions that would make a big difference to the platform experience”, says Ching. “In working with our values, it was about working together, every day”. Offering consulting services tailored to Indigenous communities, PIC is 51% Indigenous-owned, and 49% owned by PwC. Through Economic Development and Nation Building, Digital Innovation, and System Change, PIC delivers effective and innovative solutions, firmly rooted in its core values of truth, respect and self-determination.

Collaborative problem solving.

By triaging issues collaboratively, the team were able to solve problems at speed. Unique perspectives could meet, united through values, to deliver sustained outcomes for the client. “Respect is everything”, says Olympia. The mutual focus always being to democratise education and deliver a world-class experience for users. 

A remarkable and complex achievement as a community of solvers.
The community of solvers between PwC, PIC, Salesforce and AIME were successful in designing and building the technical foundations for IMAGI-NATION {University} in just three months, meeting the deadline of the 2021 academic year. Reflecting on this milestone, Parul Punjabi Jagdish (PJ), AIME’s Head of Education, said, “together with PwC, PIC, and Salesforce, we achieved some remarkable and complex things in a very short time and that’s because we were all aligned and moving together as one force, all committed to equity and fairness”. “At the end of the day, it’s the people that build the trust”, says Ching.

Creating a culture across our community.
Today, AIME is continuing to release new modules, making a difference for marginalised youth and communities around the world. The Salesforce platform enables them to do so efficiently and with ease. Prior to launch, PIC and PwC spent additional time with the client to set up marketing automations, so AIME could own the experience for students post-launch. It’s this level of engagement that’s created the sustained outcomes seen with the platform today. As active participants in creating the platform, the team at AIME have managed to create excellent media content on the project too. A ‘by youth, for youth’ approach helped understand the platform through first-hand experiences at every point in the process. The engagement itself, while under the pressure of timeframes, prioritised the importance of culture, and an environment that promoted open dialogue and discussion across teams, in a relaxed and casual way.

“Together with PwC, PIC, and Salesforce, we achieved some remarkable and complex things in a very short time and that’s because we were all aligned and moving together as one force, all committed to equity and fairness.”

Parul Punjabi Jagdish
AIME's Head of Education

One team, one focus.
With much of the project being delivered during the pandemic, it was important to maintain the energy, excitement and enthusiasm across the teams, even when they couldn’t be in the same room. AIME were proud to have PwC interns and graduates join forces, who loved being able to bring their unique perspectives as young professionals to the project. Highly committed to the cause, AIME said the value of extending this experience of working on a meaningful project benefiting society to newer members of the team created greater authenticity in understanding exactly who they were creating IMAGI-NATION {University} for. “In working together, it was important to never be them and us, but always one team”, says Olympia, speaking to the culture across the team.

Unlocking new educational pathways between school, university and work.
The platform has been successful in unlocking new educational pathways for students and is set for scale, opening possibilities between school, university, and work, whilst also unlocking the wider ecosystem around these young people, including university students, teachers, organisational executives and everyday citizens too collectively take actions in a networked, decentralised ecosystem of change-organisers. At the same time, IMAGI-NATION {University} strips away any shame that marginalised communities historically face when seeking new opportunities to learn and grow. IMAGI-NATION {University} enables students to find their entrepreneurial spirit, teachers to transform their own learning experience and reach more students in more places, executive teams to deliver more diverse recruitment opportunities and create a level playing field across senior management roles, and for communities to transform and thrive through the imagination of their citizens.

Human-led, tech-powered, and gamified for engagement.
Technology powering the team includes Pardot from Salesforce—used to capture leads with a conversion rate of over 60%, while enrolling hundreds of students from over 50 countries, and myTrailhead—offering templates to publish learning content with ease while motivating and rewarding students through ‘badges’. These badges gamify the student experience to maximise engagement. Furthermore, professors are presented as ‘puppets’. This approach was tested by AIME as an effective way to counter snap judgements made about people, and find a common voice across cultures to break-down and humanise some complex ideas and challenges. particularly when confronting topics such as racism and inequality. Through Experience Cloud, students of IMAGI-NATION {University} are able to access a personalised homepage, their own secure entry point to the learning experience that awaits. Inside, they have the opportunity to connect with almost 100 community groups to learn, listen, and exchange ideas with other students, as well as access courses and content from the university. 

Working with, the social impact centre of Salesforce, the team invested their time to work closely with PIC and PwC, understanding and proactively supporting everyone involved. Catering to both large corporations and small businesses, invested in a fair and equal future, Salesforce marries technical solutions with the forward-thinking, relationship-focused values which have seen the company thrive for over twenty years. IMAGI-NATION {University} is integrated with AIME’s website, while the cloud-based Salesforce solution delivers the scalability to adapt and grow in the long run, in a cost-effective way. We’re proud to say this engagement with PwC, PIC and Salesforce continues today.

The success of IMAGI-NATION {University}.

More than 430 students enrolled for 2021, from all over the world, creating opportunities for everyone from students of schools and universities to teachers, organisations and executives, as well as the wider community and citizens. With impressive engagement globally, in the first four months of the university being launched, students have managed to unlock over 2,100 badges with the majority ready to graduate with a special AIME ‘hoodie’. These hoodies are a currency of their own, recognising their achievement, and feature the badges they have unlocked so students can wear them with honour (in AIME, this is called “Hoodie Economics” and is a systemic long-term deep exploration around how we might model our economies differently that puts human care and kindness at the heart, rather than seeking limitless scale and uncontrolled growth). Furthermore, the platform has proven to be a powerful tool for addressing inequity through ideas, with over 260 vision statements being submitted, delivering incredible insights into unique ways to address the challenges facing marginalised communities around the world. 

An impressive achievement, this is just the beginning for IMAGI-NATION {University}. The plan from here is for the university to become the primary point of contact for people to access AIME’s rich network of resources for learning and mentoring. The goal is for IMAGI-NATION {University} to have 100,000 people impacted by 2023.

It’s this sense of confidence that PwC, PIC, Salesforce and AIME seek to instil in every student through the experience of IMAGI-NATION {University}. Living up to its name in every sense of the word, by turning dreams into reality where human meets digital. Human-led and tech-powered, by bringing humanity and technology together in unexpected ways to solve important problems, PwC’s Consulting Business helps to build, earn, and share trust in our clients and the communities they serve.

That’s The New Equation.

“IMAGI-NATION {University} is about giving young people the confidence to pursue their dreams.”

Olympia Newman
Digital Transformation and Salesforce Marketing Champion, Senior Manager, PwC Australia

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