Collaborating on Business Challenges Enhances MBA Education

Posted on December 04, 2018

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Susanne Hall has been involved in the capstone program as both a student and a client.

As a student consultant in the Bryan School’s MBA capstone course, Susanne Hall helped determine if a potential new revenue stream would fit into executive recruiting firm Charles Aris Inc.’s business model and how to implement the idea.

In the same semester, Hall also represented a client – Greensboro History Museum (she was a board member) – seeking expert insights from Bryan School MBA students on a formal marketing plan that could serve as a road map for the museum. From this unusual circumstance, acting as client and student simultaneously, she gained important industry insights and great admiration for her fellow students.

“The students’ varied backgrounds could not have been a better fit for our organization. They brought unique skills and insights to the project and created a plan that would allow us to grow,” says Hall.



Each semester, companies representing a multitude of fields and industries submit projects for consideration by the Consulting Engagement Program. Joseph Erba, assistant dean of External Affairs and director of the MBA Consulting Engagement Program, assembles MBA student teams based on projects ranging from new market identification and analysis, new business modeling, and new product development to financial or operational analyses.

“Typically, client companies are surprised by both the depth and breadth of our students’ analyses and recommendations,” says Erba.

A recent client, Sara Hopkins from the Junior League of Greensboro Inc., was highly impressed by the students’ work.

Since 1935, the organization’s thrift store has served as its biggest fundraiser. In Summer 2016, the Junior League relocated the Bargain Box from downtown Greensboro to midtown, and the store experienced declining sales. Bryan School students conducted market research and developed actionable marketing campaigns to drive sales.

“The students offered a great mix of marketing ideas and helped us better understand our ideal customer, says Hopkins. “We were impressed by the team’s candor and professionalism and look forward to future projects with the Bryan School.”

Students gain experience in new fields and business perspectives that add to their technical toolkit, says Erba. “But the most important skills they develop have to do with teamwork and emotional intelligence. They’re dealing with real, fast-paced business situations, and their ability to work together is essential to success.”


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