Classroom Transforms into Boardroom

After weeks of intensive research, group meetings, and client interviews, students in Professor Jodi Detjen’s Capstone Project Course were finally ready to pitch their business recommendations to senior-level executives.

They spent the entire semester addressing real business challenges from two companies – Circor International and UBM Channel. The companies asked for help in solving various issues, such as improving the efficiency of mergers and acquisitions and developing a presence on new social media platforms.

Throughout the course, which is a requirement for all senior management majors, the students worked collaboratively in small groups of four to six people, with each group tackling a different client problem. The students researched their companies and topics, met periodically with their clients, and interviewed industry experts to gain outside perspectives.

On presentation day, Detjen’s classroom was transformed into a real-life business meeting, with the actual clients present to evaluate each proposal. The students arrived in business suits with PowerPoint presentations in hand.

The students spoke eloquently about their topics and fielded questions with ease. Although being prepared was important for their grade, much more was at stake. Their ideas could potentially have tangible effects on the two client companies.

“The students put their all into these projects. These are real-world problems – the clients really would like their perspective. They are taking notes and asking questions; the students' solutions could actually impact the way Circor and UBM Channel operate. The students are the experts for these 20 minutes,” Detjen said.

Both Circor and UBM offered positive feedback and were appreciative of the students’ innovative ideas.

“We’re looking at some of our future leaders here, and you guys are well on your way,” Eric Bedard said to the students at the end of the presentations.

AJ Reilly agreed, saying she hopes the students take away as much from the experience as she did. “It’s been fun, exciting, and very engaging.”

“This is the real deal. Previous students contact me years later and say that this class helped prepare them and give them skills that they actually use in their jobs. This experience is a differentiator for our students in the marketplace,” Detjen said.