We often hear from alumni and parents asking about the BHP classroom experience and what new things students are doing in the program. This semester two BHP professors tried something new with their classes. Dr. Leigh McAlister, who teaches BHP Principles of Marketing, paired BHP alumni with students in her class for a day to coach them in their area of interest. And Dr. Ethan Burris, who teaches Organizational Behavior, an upper-division management class, paired his students with MBAs in a challenge to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Dr. McAlister: Connecting BHP students and alumni
Vivek Shah, a 2003 graduate of the program and chair of the BHP Advisory Board Mentoring Committee, was happy to help when he heard Dr. McAlister was looking to bring alumni from all career paths in to talk about how marketing relates to what they do. “We on the board are looking to find ways to increase the connection between alumni and students, and to play a larger role in helping students as needed,” said Shah.
The class was broken down into smaller groups and matched with an alumnus who is currently working in the student’s chosen field. Each group was asked to come up with a new product idea to meet the needs of some customer segment in their business. The second task was to write a positioning statement for that new product. Groups fragmented throughout the classroom and into the Atrium. Idea generation began and students listened closely.
Shah hopes to see interactions like this continue. “As for the future, I think we could see more professors finding interest with bringing students into the classroom,” he said. “We could also have guest speaker sessions where an alum gives a relevant lecture about a topic being taught in class but bringing a real world and real time vantage point. Hopefully we have just scratched the surface here.”
Dr. Burris: Pairing BHP students with MBAs
In Dr. Burris’ management class, students competed in a Donald Trump-esque ‘Apprentice’ like challenge. Each group, consisting of BHP students and MBA students from his Power and Politics elective, was tasked with raising enough money to fund one wish for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, about $5,000, in ten days.
Dr. Burris replicated a technique used by Wharton professor, Adam Grant, author of New York Times bestseller, Give and Take. Students were able to apply influence techniques to “real-life” situations when soliciting donations for Make-A-Wish. Pairing undergraduate students with MBA students added another element to the process, “It was a two-fold debrief,” said Burris. “On the one hand influence played a part in tactics and strategies of getting donations. Secondly, group members also had to influence each other, bringing high power and low power dynamics to the surface.”
After the ten-day challenge, the final outcome of all groups combined was $136,065 in donations for Make-A-Wish Foundation. Students used various approaches ranging from low cost options such as email and Facebook to high effort options like reaching out to family and previous employers. Some groups took a “divide and conquer” approach while others worked together as a cohesive team. “The winning group had one member who interned for Google connect Make-A-Wish with Google Grants,” said Burris. “They applied and will most assuredly secure the grant, which is worth $10K per month in ad words. They prorated it for the year.”
We are always excited to see this kind of innovation happening in the classroom, and appreciate that our professors are always finding ways to challenge the students more and expose them the all of the resources available to them while they are here at McCombs. Thank you to Dr. Burris and Dr. McAlister, and to all of the alumni who gave up a full day to be with our students. Those alumni involved were Vivek Shah, Betsy Greytok, Jocelyn Coe Seever, Allison Steinberg, Craig Wielansky and Maneesh Verma.