The Real Deal

Sonos executives have a front-row seat as students share their findings.
Sonos executives have a front-row seat as students share their findings.

One of the hallmarks of a Suffolk education is the real-world experience integrated into student learning.

That was especially evident across the Sawyer Business School as the fall semester wound down, when groups of undergraduates and graduates brought months of research and hard work to the ultimate jury: their clients.


Students in the “Business Research Methods” course helped audio equipment designer and manufacturer Sonos better understand potential customer segments in the voice-activated integrated smart speaker market. After collecting data and doing research, students presented their insights to a group of five Sonos executives.

“The ability to have students who don’t necessarily fit in our core target but from whom we can learn is really appealing to us,” said David Feick, director of consumer intelligence at Sonos. “We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the presentations and the students’ ability to help us understand particular demographic groups.”

Sonos is working with another SBS marketing class this spring.


German-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Bayer posed a query to the MBA students in the “Understanding World Class Clusters” course: How can Bayer become an insider in the Boston medical ecosystem?

Students spent the fall devising ways to help Bayer become known as much for its life science capabilities as its pharma offerings. The groups presented their ideas—which included partnerships, career initiatives, apps, and hackathon sponsorships—to executives from Bayer, some of whom had flown in from Germany to hear the students.

“The presentations were very well thought out and quite creative,” said Dr. Marion Hitchcock, one of the Bayer team members. “Obviously the students put a lot of thought into them, and it showed.”

Bayer is continuing to evaluate which ideas it wants to move forward with.

George Howell Coffee

Local artisanal roaster George Howell Coffee has no marketing department; they don’t even have a marketing person. Which is why they asked the “Customer Insights and Decision Making” course to put together a full marketing plan for them. Students created surveys, conducted focus groups, and did primary and secondary research—all of which they presented to George Howell, coffee legend and company president, and Rebecca Fitzgerald, COO.

“The students came up with a lot of really great ideas” said Fitzgerald. “We didn’t expect to have such detailed recommendations that we could actually execute immediately.”

Learn more about what students did for George Howell Coffee.


Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs

Ben Hall
Office of Public Affairs