Sales of organic foods in the United States grew from $6.1 billion in 2000 to $29.2 billion in 2011, and market forecasters see this trend continuing. That’s why Sustainable Essentials Enterprises (SuperGrow), a two-year-old company that has developed means to grow organic produce indoors year-round is primed to pounce on the opportunities presented by a growing market.
But where? Which market best suits this company’s growth? How can the company’s business model best be implemented in these markets? What strategies and materials are necessary to capitalize on this market quickly? Who has these answers?
Over the next four months, 57 MBA students from the Harbert College of Business will investigate these issues, and others, and present their findings in December. Those familiar with the annual MBA project know it well and call it “The Capstone Course.” Technically, the class and project are referred to as Integrated Business Projects and Case Analysis.
On Friday, Aug. 29, teams of students were given their respective project assignments before meeting with company representatives for further direction and insight. In four months, students will provide their clients with a comprehensive consulting report, complete with industry analysis, competitive structure, financial status, marketing analysis, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and detailed recommendations.
“We are trying to design projects around all of your 12 to 13 courses that you take in the MBA program and it’s an opportunity to apply all of that in-class learning to a project and bring value to a company,” said Gary Page, Executive in Residence at Harbert College, who helps coordinate the program. “We want you to grow through application. Secondly, we want them to grow in working within a team environment.”
Other companies presenting issues for resolution to students include Johnson & Johnson, The Hotel and Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, Regions Bank, the Association of Leadership Programs (based in Huntsville), and Big Data Analytics.
“The client project allows the students to integrate what they have learned throughout the MBA program,” said Peter Stanwick, Associate Professor of Management, who teaches the class. “In addition, it gives them hands on experience addressing, in real time, the challenges facing an existing company. The project also allows the students the opportunity to develop their written and oral presentation skills. Furthermore, the interaction with the client allows the student to expand their network connections.
“The companies are required to ask the students to address a current critical issue/decision facing the company. The client receives three comprehensive and professionally prepared written reports in which they can start implementing the recommendations immediately. In addition, the client is able to obtain three alternative viewpoints on how to address the issue(s). This diversity of three perspectives greatly enhances the value of the project for the client.”
Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest medical devices and diagnostics company, uses gamma irradiation to sterilize many of its medical devices. Cobalt 60, the radioactive material used in the process, is regulated by Homeland Security and other governmental agencies, and global suppliers are limited.
Moving forward, Johnson & Johnson must gain a better understanding of the supply chain risks in using gamma sterilization over the next five years and learn more about emerging technologies for small, in-line sterilization systems that could replace gamma sterilization, if needed. By December, Harbert’s MBA students will have provided Johnson & Johnson with all the information they need.
For further information about Harbert College’s MBA program, contact Stan Harris at (334) 844-4838.