This year, four MBA Student Consultants flew out to Boston to carry out work on behalf of an international manufacturing and processing company. With a turnover in excess of $50m, the company has yet to enter European markets. With this as their brief, our students put together a comprehensive market entry strategy for the organisation which included detailed branding, pricing and positioning recommendations, as well as specific advice as regards social media. They formally presented their findings at the Sawyer Business School to the two of the firm’s vice presidents, as well as the founder’s son. All were extremely impressed; so much so that the company has already entrusted them with some follow-up work, which will be fed into their final report.
The MBA Student Consultants were superb; serious, focused and professional. Te staff here at the Sawyer Business School all appreciated their very evident effort throughout the week and the preliminary results of the project showed it.
James Long, one of the student consultants had this to say:
The Boston consultancy trip was a fantastic group experience. The brief that the company supplied to the group prior to travelling was comprehensive and required the group to remain totally focused throughout. Lectures from Mike Barretti gave the group a great start to the week and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to learn from Mike who is vastly experienced but also current in his subject matter, also a fantastic host. The week was structured superbly by Tom who made sure that the maximum was taken from the experience, his hard work behind the scenes was truly appreciated by the group.
In my view the residential trip is a must for any MBA student, It allows every aspect of the course to be used in context under testing circumstances and results in great satisfaction. For younger students the week would give a true reflection of the working environment and would be a good addition to any CV, for the more mature student it’s great to be out of the comfort zone to implement the knowledge gained through the MBA.
Lawrence Howes, another member of the group, said this:
The Boston consultancy trip was a great experience that allowed the academic teachings over the course of the MBA to be combined and used in a real life business situation.
The visit to the company incorporated with the lectures received from Prof Mike Barretti gave a rounded approach to the week, with the presentation to the company being well received on the final formal day.
The residential trip to Boston is a must for any MBA Student as it gives real credence that all the hours and hard work from the modules are relevant and can be applied to any business in the UK or further afield.
The planning put in at both the University of Suffolk in the UK and the Suffolk University in Boston, plus the tireless hours put in by Dr Tom Vine, prove to me that this is a relationship for the future and both universities will prosper from continuing the connection.
The University of Suffolk ‘revalidates’ its degrees periodically. On a year-to-year basis we review the modules that we teach to ensure that these remain both useful and current. Every five years however we pause to engage in a root-and-branch review that, in effect, re-imagines our degrees. This process the University terms ‘revalidation’ and at present we are preparing for the revalidation of our MBA (Master of Business Administration ). What are we doing to re-imagine our MBA? I am glad you asked…
We are making a number of changes designed to ensure that our MBA continues to prepare participants for leadership and executive positions. In a blog I can only highlight a few of these changes so I will pause to pinpoint the following developments:
We have reviewed the content of our modules to ensure that, as far as possible, students work on ‘live’ (you will note I refuse to say ‘real world’) problems. In addition we have added more formative assessments to ensure that, as our students learn to become the ‘practical theorists’ that modern organizations need, they receive timely feedback on their ideas and plans.
Finally (within the confines of this brief account) it is also worth noting that we have changed the titles of our modules. This apparently cosmetic change is, for me, perhaps the most significant development, because it is designed to remind staff and students alike that although we generally refer to ‘management’ and ‘organizations’ as nouns; as things they are in truth more usefully constructed as verbs. And if you hope to make a difference in the (real) world you might do well to recall that managing and organizing are processes that we enact between us…
2016 saw the creation of our new MBA consultancy service. Earlier in the year, I contacted our existing MBA alumni and asked them to submit proposals for live projects based on current challenges their organisations are experiencing. Our students are now working on these live projects either as part of a relevant taught module, or on an extra-curricular basis. Not only does this give our students excellent consultancy experience (and so helps differentiate our MBA in an increasingly competitive market), but it also helps build and maintain excellent relations with our alumni.
The Student Perspective, by MBA student Sandra Morrison
Part of the feedback given by the MBA students at the end of last year was that the course could be enhanced if there was an opportunity to work on real live projects with local companies. Tom Vine managed to organise just such a project for current MBA students.
We received an email advising us of the project and requesting that everyone interested send in an updated CV for consideration so that the best match to the student’s profile could be ascertained. And so it was that I, along with my fellow student Richard, were the lucky ones to take on a consultancy project for a medium-sized machine-tooling company in the West Midlands.
Tom organised the meeting and drove us over to the client’s warehouse so that we could visit and receive a full brief on what the company wanted to achieve. On return Richard and I agreed the division of tasks and set out deadlines for the project. Tom was a great support for any questions and assisted when liaising with the company.
It was a fantastic experience and was extremely beneficial in that we could put into practice what had been learning on the MBA course.
Although the data we gathered from the company’s clients was qualitative we categorised the replies so that we could make use of IBM-SPSS and produce statistical data. We were then able to present to both the quantitative and the qualitative data to the company. This allowed us to experiment this aspect on a real-life situation and provided extra practice of using the software prior to writing our dissertation for the MBA.
I would recommend to all students to take up this opportunity if you have the chance. This obviously involved extra work for Tom, and we are really grateful for his time and assistance.