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Zooming in on TRAM Track Presentation Day 2020: an interview with Andrew Rowse

Ellie Woodrow · August 13th, 2020

For the first time in 2020, TRAM hosted its Track Presentation Day digitally. I spoke to Andrew Rowse, our Program Manager, about what the move online has been like, and what we’ve learnt.

Would you be able to give us a brief overview of your role within TRAM?

I design and deliver three out of the four programs we deliver for researchers: TRAMx bootcamps, TRAM Track, and TRAM Runway.

What were your highlights of TRAM’s Presentation Day?

We didn’t have any idea of what to expect, given we had never run a digital event, so it was great to see how far the teams had come in such a short amount of time, especially in such unprecedented conditions.

This was the first entirely virtual event TRAM has run. What do you think the benefits were of it being online?

Being virtual made the event more accessible, and so it was easier for people to attend and engage regardless of where they were.

Are there any tips you’d give to people out there hosting or attending virtual events?

Kiss (keep it short and sweet!). If it’s longer than an episode of MasterChef, people will zone out. Keep this in perspective by thinking about how many collective hours of your audience’s time you’re asking for – simple and effective is best.

There seemed to be a strong environmental theme in many of the presentations, could you tell us a bit more about this?

It’s all about creating value for the customer. It’s great to see as a society that we appreciate the importance of the environment and that our researchers can have this focus. Having said that, while the environment is an essential component of every research project, there have to be other reasons that the project should exist.

What commonalities can you see between the strongest team presentations?

What’s really noticeable is that the more that teams engage with customers, the more they have data points and insights to work with.

Many of these teams will have started off in the TRAMx bootcamp or have come into TRAM Track with little entrepreneurial experience. In what ways have you seen the teams grow since day one?

The biggest change is the way they understand and approach problem-solving. They stop thinking in isolation about their personal line of research, and start to think more broadly and innovatively about the entire ecosystem. Stepping out of their lane in this way is crucial for their progress in the real world.

Going into TRAM Runway, what excites you most about the 2020 team cohort?

We have some really diverse teams this year, including our first team from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. I’m really keen to see what they’re able to accomplish under these extenuating circumstances.

With everything being a bit topsy-turvy this year, how have you found delivering the program online?

If I’m honest, at the start it was really difficult. It required a complete redesign of everything we do. We were lucky to learn a lot from others in the field, such as making content as accessible possible. We were careful to use interactive digital tools and focus on what was going to be engaging, rather than simply being easy to deliver.

Evidently this year entailed doing the program a bit differently. Which aspects do you think you’ll retain for future years?

I think access to our programs was a great improvement, so keeping digital elements such as coaching will be really useful. It also improved the practicality of teams engaging with multiple customers more efficiently. It’s completely changed education and there’s a lot to learn from.

If you were Prime Minister of Australia, what would you do for emerging startups like the TRAM Track teams?

Create a category of visas that allows greater international involvement in startups, and give startups the space they need to operate creatively and independently.

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