Tusculum MBA students team with organizations to propose solutions that enhance the bottom line

GREENEVILLE – During a full calendar year of courses, Master of Business Administration students at Tusculum University build their knowledge on multiple subjects, equipping them to be career-ready professionals in the corporate world.

The Tusculum bookstore is one of the entities receiving assistance through the Comprehensive Business Project course this summer.

When the summer arrives, these students examine in depth a need facing an organization and present solutions that can enhance bottom-line performance. Through the MBA’S Comprehensive Business Project course, they prove to be valuable partners who can help ensure an organization’s long-term success.

Dr. Joshua Ray, the MBA director and an associate professor of management, said savings companies have achieved from projects students have undertaken have ranged from tens of thousands to millions of dollars. The skill set these students developed also contributed to the development of initiatives that resulted in growth of an organization’s portfolio. Students have also provided assistance by examining internal matters that might impede optimal performance.

“Our students can see the value of the Pioneer MBA in the benefit they are providing to the companies and organizations they serve,” Dr. Ray said. “The project also provides them valuable additional skills that can help them obtain their first job after graduation, earn a promotion with their employer or advance with a new organization.”

Tusculum has had the Comprehensive Business Project course for about five years. Dr. Ray said the faculty implemented it because it was a best practice that aligned with other MBA programs in the country. One of the more recent adaptations was the incorporation of an international component to each student’s research project in recognition that the economy is global.

The College of Business provides broad guidance about the research project but allows students to choose the subject they want to explore in depth.

Early in the summer, every student must submit a problem statement of about five pages and an interim report of about 10 pages. The interim report details the student’s impressions entering into the research initiative and how that is evolving in the early stages based on what the class member has learned so far.

The course concludes with the student preparing a 50-60-page report for the company and the professor that thoroughly discusses the subject, including a literature review and cost-benefit analysis in addition to the recommended course of action. Each student presents the final product to the whole MBA class in a format that condenses the analysis to 20 picture slides.

Tom Williams is a supervisor of manufacturing at Bell Helicopter in Piney Flats, who has worked in the aviation industry since 2012 and in a leadership role since 2014. He is seeking his MBA from Tusculum and said he eyed the Comprehensive Business Project course as a way to gain knowledge and insight into the ability to quickly diagnose and resolve issues he might encounter in the future.

“This project has allowed me to learn new skills that I will be able to utilize in my personal and business life,” Williams said. “It has also allowed me to increase my confidence in problem-solving techniques, as I have worked through some of the different scenarios introduced through this project. All of the skills that I am learning and using through this project are useful and will be a benefit as I move through my career in leadership.”

Williams said this course also emphasizes the importance of communicating with the representatives of the organization with whom students are collaborating on the research.

“The interviews with the employees of the selected business allow for some networking that might benefit you later in your career,” he said. “Dr. Ray has noted in a previous class about how the relationships that we are forming in the MBA program allow for us to communicate across various industries with classmates who have different knowledge and skills that may help us in the future.”

To learn more about the Pioneer MBA, please visit https://site.tusculum.edu/mba/.