Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Win-Win: MA Action Learning Projects

In order to be better prepared when entering the workforce when they graduate, Wake Forest University's talented Master of Arts in Management (MA) students need practical experience to prepare for their careers. At the same time, local businesses desire outside consulting services to obtain creative solutions to unmet needs.

Action Learning Projects are the perfect marriage of addressing the students’ needs and the companies’ needs. This ALP Process is a win-win for all involved. Eighteen organizations will host teams of five or six MA students throughout the academic term. The MA students assume the role of business consultants and complete three different field projects. The ALP Sponsors receive quality work and the opportunity to evaluate student performance. Students get “hands-on” experience in data analysis, business process analysis and consulting.

BooneD “The MA students are bright, but they need context to apply what they have learned in class,” said MA program director Derrick Boone. “The ALP Process provides that field experience and adds value for the companies as well.”

ISP Sports is among seven returning sponsors. Last year, Wake Forest MA students helped ISP analyze which industries cut back the most in advertising spending. “The information went out to our sales team, and they used it figure out how to best use their time and which clients to target,” said Adam Raak, director of new business administration for ISP Sports. He said ISP also implemented many of the ALP Team’s recommendations to improve and integrate information sharing among its 60 offices.

Primo Water, another returning sponsor, will provide an opportunity for its team of MA students to be involved in historic growth at the company. “We are going to take our company public, and as we do that, the students will experience the process, see what it took to get to this point, and what happens going forward,” said Mike Reeves, Primo’s vice president of corporate development.

WFU Business School / MA Program 7-19-10Students are eager to contribute to their sponsoring organizations. Natasha Wright (MA ’11) is a member of the  ALP Team working this year with Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "I want to go into healthcare operations. This provides an opportunity to work in the field and help address real-world scenarios,” she said.

Alfred Williams (MA ’11) is part of a student group working with the aerospace company, Triumph Group. “I think this will add a lot by making us more polished and marketable. It gives us more depth and I am looking forward to learning how the business works from the inside,” Williams stated.

Senn Dunn Insurance is one of the new sponsors. Public relations officer Chris Young said, “This is exciting for us. We plan to have our student group do a market analysis of our current products and apply that to business development.”

Legacy Consultant Pharmacy is on board for the first time. Jeff Schneider, pharmacy director, said he hopes to learn from the business students through this experience. “I would like my ALP team to help show us how to operationalize ideas, get them from theory to practice, and then develop a system to measure the success and results.”

John Lovett, director of student professional development for graduate business programs, thanked and congratulated everyone involved with the ALP Process this year. “This is a unique program and could not happen without our ALP Champions,” he said. “In business, it is not only what you know that matters…it is how well you can apply the concepts and influence others to see the benefits of your point-of-view. This is going to be a great year!”

The 2010-11 ALP Sponsors are: Amarr, Arbor Acres, BB&T, Debbie's Staffing, Hatch Early Childhood, Inmar, ISP, Legacy Consultant Pharmacy, Liberty Hardware, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Old Salem Museum & Gardens, Piedmont Federal, Primo Water, Southern Community Bank &Trust, Senn Dunn Insurance, Triumph Group, Vulcan Materials, and The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina.

The Wake Forest MA program is a pre-experience degree program designed specifically for recent liberal arts, science and engineering graduates. The 10-month team-based program develops great students into well-rounded business graduates, enabling them to pursue careers in a broader range of fields.

For more information, or to become a future Action Learning Project sponsor, contact Lovett, or (336) 758-7379 or Lori Sykes, assistant director of corporate relations, Career Management Center,, or (336) 758-3850.

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