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        MBA students offer solutions to real business issues

        December 11, 2014

        All News


        capstone Six companies representing a variety of industries across the U.S. offered their business questions to Harbert CollegeMBA students this fall. For example:

        • How can a bank adequately address regulatory guidance in assessing third-party vendors?
        • What are the supply chain risks involved in using gamma sterilization for surgical products based on geo-political, Homeland Security, environmental and cobalt supply constraints?
        • Would adding a complimentary breakfast buffet at an upscale restaurant within a hotel be financially advantageous for that hotel?
        Fifty-seven students used the fall semester to answer these questions, and many others, and presented their findings to corporate representatives through comprehensive consulting reports complete with industry analysis, competitive structures, financial status, marketing analysis, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and detailed recommendations. It’s called the Capstone Course, otherwise known as Integrated Business Projects and Case Analysis. The project allows students to integrate what they have learned throughout the MBA program. It also gives the students a hands-on experience addressing a variety of corporate challenges. The project also allows the students the opportunity to develop their written and oral presentation skills. “This program is the epitome of engaged scholarship,” said Harbert College Dean and Wells Fargo Professor Bill Hardgrave. “We try to embody the idea of engaged scholarship in all that we do. Students – you represent us very well.” Teams of students made lengthy visual presentations Dec. 5 before corporate representatives, who served as judges. Winners were announced that afternoon. Companies represented included Johnson & Johnson, Sustainable Essentials (SuperGrow), The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, Regions Bank, the Association of Leadership Programs (based in Huntsville), and Big Data Analytics. “I think it really puts together all of the pieces we learned in our classes,” said Nicholas Billiris, from Tampa, Fla. “It’s a real-world situation where a company is going to use these recommendations to help their business. Plus, you get an opportunity to work with a plethora of people.” Greg Wells, from Portland, Ore., agreed. “It allows us to use our critical thinking skills. We are able to come up with our own long-term and short-term recommendations,” he said. Student winners from each business were as follows: * The Hotel at Auburn University: (Team Alpha) Hal Davis, Lauren Edwards and Yanquin Tong. (Best presenter) Hal Davis * Association for Leadership Programs: (Team Beta) Isaac Liang, Lauren Little and Victor Meyer. (Best presenter) Ryan Discher from Team Alpha * Big Data: (Team Gamma) Thomas Braddock, William McMillan and Stephen Thompson. (Best presenter) William McMillan * Johnson&Johnson: (Team Beta) Mindy Kelly, Ty McCormack, Rob Paydo and Haoran Yang. (Best presenter) Rob Paydo * Regions Financial: (Team Beta) Shufei He, Danny Payne and Matthew Selan. (Best presenter) Matthew Selan * Sustainable Essentials: (Team Gamma) Chad Ihrig, Olive Mintchouang and Will Myers. (Best presenter) Will Myers For a gallery of photos, including the winners, please see: