UC students reimagine play in a sustainable future

27 June 2022

#EFMDEQUIS reaccreditation Third year management students at the University of Canterbury (UC) Business School took on a real-world assignment to find solutions to help ZURU Toys continue to reimagine play after the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Business School ZURU pitch
SDG 12

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

The students presented their innovative ideas to Brittany Oliver and Chelsea Stevens from ZURU, which included possible solutions to inflationary pressures and retail price increases, freight and logistic constraints, and a manufacturing mindshift from globalisation to localisation.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were at the heart of the solutions, particularly SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, with both the winning and runner up teams recommending ZURU improve their toy sustainability by means of recycling materials, creating a new bio-based material, or a similar solution.

The winning team, made up of five students, recommended an innovative Circular Framework, an approach that maximizes value and eliminates waste by improving how goods and services are designed, manufactured, and used. They suggested that ZURU move its processing manufacturing facilities to the United States (US) and use recycled materials to manufacture toys by leveraging the company’s relationship with Walmart, while also developing a processing plant adjacent to the US manufacturing plant to process recycled materials.

The runner-up group, also made up of five students, recommended that the company establish a ZURU Ventures firm to invest in finding solutions to specific challenges that ZURU faces. Its first investment would include working with bio-based material companies to find alternate materials for ZURU products.

One of the students, Theresa Klaassen says she found significant value in this assessment because of the real-world experience available through pitching ideas to ZURU.

“Identifying solutions to a real company’s need by applying the theory we have learned in the management course (MGMT301) at UC has been an awesome way to learn the skills we will need when we start working after study,” she says.

“I’m really grateful that Anna has set up her course in this way, as I think it’s empowering us to become employable graduates at the end of our degree.”

Because of their impressive pitch and idea, the students from the winning group will meet with the ZURU team to discuss internship opportunities through an interview process.

Stevens says, “ZURU has grown to become a major international player in Toys and FMCG due to innovative, fresh thinking. It's been great to see the next wave of business minds using that same principle to come up with novel solutions to global business issues.

The students who participated from the University of Canterbury showed incredible thinking and creativity. Brittany and I were happy to take their ideas back to our management team and to give the students a glimpse into our world,” Stevens says.

UC management lecturer, Dr Anna Earl, was excited to collaborate with ZURU for the final assignment of this semester’s cohort.

“I believe that experiential learning helps students to learn in the most effective way because it provides them with hands on experience working on real life, global issues that companies face,” she says.

“By developing a report and a pitch for ZURU, students needed to be creative in developing the solution, and they also had to learn the art of delivering the pitch to their customers.”

“Students can talk about this project during their future interviews because they have developed tangible skills and outcomes, and it’s a brilliant reward if our students see their ideas implemented in an organisation.”

Dr Earl says, “I am proud of my students for eagerly taking on this challenging assignment to develop realistic solutions that could overcome challenges for an established organisation.”

It’s stories like this that reflect the University of Canterbury Business School’s meaningful research, empowered students, and quality education, which are all strengths that have led to EQUIS reaccreditation. Explore all that’s on offer when you study or engage with the triple crown accredited UC Business School here – the University of Canterbury school that’s in the business of making a difference.

  • ZURU winner

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  • Email: media@canterbury.ac.nz Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168
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