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It’s a win-win situation. Seventy-six MBA students meet challenges they can expect to face in the real business world, while six companies and one state agency receive solutions to problems they might otherwise spend thousands resolving.
MBA students at the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business received Capstone Project assignments Friday, Aug. 30, after meeting with representatives from a variety of businesses.
“They (students) are expected to deliver the companies value, identify where they can save them cost and increase efficiencies,” said Gary Page, a lecturer in Aviation and Supply Chain Management, who identifies and recruits companies as clients for the college’s MBA students.
“The students benefit from a real-world experience. That’s the underlying objective. In our MBA program, our students are required to do a real-world project in a team environment.”Peter Stanwick, Associate Professor of Management and MBA instructor considered the Capstone course the “foundation class of the MBA program.”
“The benefits for the MBA students are threefold,” said Stanwick. “The first benefit is that it gives all MBA students (both on-campus and online) the opportunity to address real business issues that are critical to the long term sustainability of the business clients. The students realize that these clients have a vested interest in their ideas. In addition, they are able to apply their knowledge from their classes in a real business setting.
“The second benefit for the students is that they are given an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their written and orals skills to professional business people. The third benefit is the potential networking opportunities the MBA students have with not only their client but all the clients who participate in the class.”
Enterprising businesses involved with MBA students for the fall semester include Tiger Dining, Invision Events, Mars Pet Care, AirMed, United Bank, and ProAssurance. The Alabama State Port Authority is the state agency involved.
What does a project entail? For example, Air Med, a global air ambulance and medical services company, is considering opening a base of operation in the Middle East. The company is considering sites in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait City, but wants a comprehensive study done before making a choice. A number of variables are to be considered here, including hiring, operational issues, employment and HR policies.
The team of students is expected to identify a number of key issues and opportunities associated with establishing such a base, including: developing employment policies for non-U.S. workers; developing employment policies for U.S. citizens employed there in regard to housing and reimbursements; and, of course, recommending a preferred location.
Agencies involved have a variety of needs, which is suited for the variety of students.
“We try to find companies that have projects that would match the students’ interests and abilities, and that the students can provide value for them,” Page said. Projects are to be presented before faculty and client judges on Dec. 6.