For the last 14 years, Cameron’s PMBA program has challenged MBA student teams with a “real-world” consulting project known as the Learning Alliance (LA). The LA project pairs regional businesses with teams of PMBA students that provide comprehensive analysis of the companies’ business processes and competitive environments, as well as strategic recommendations for growth and/or profit improvement. The SBTDC is instrumental in selecting LA clients and helping to manage the relationships between the clients and the student teams.
The LA project is completed in a twelve-week period and takes place at the end of the first year of the PMBA program. Students apply skills and knowledge from their completed classes in management, accounting, finance, marketing, operations and analytics to the challenges facing their LA client. The student team’s first LA assignment is an environmental analysis of their client, covering all aspects of the firm’s industry, competitive and consumer environment. The next phase is a growth/profit analysis, which the client chooses in consultation with MBA faculty and their SBTDC counselor. It could be on growing profitability, revenue or markets, or looking at major process improvements.
Each year, one of the participating PMBA Learning Alliance Teams is selected for the “Most Value-Added Award” Selecting the award winner was based on comments and assessments from MBA faculty, the Small Business Technology & Development Center (SBTDC) counselors and client representatives. Determining the winner was a difficult task, as eight other PMBA student teams also added value to their clients’ businesses. The team that provided their Learning Alliance (LA) client, Green Recycling Wattles, LLC, with the most value-added strategic recommendations this year, consisted of Ilona Monahan, Alfred White, Matthew Mylott and Matthew Heiser. This team’s recommendations are already being put into practice by their client.
Green Recycling Wattles (GRW) was spun off from Green Recycling Solutions (GRS). One of GRS initial products was a colored mulch product that was recycled from construction lumber waste. GRS commitment to the environment results in less waste sent to local landfills and returns materials back to the economy to be repurposed. GRS then turned their attention to wattles.
An actual wattle is composed of recycled wood contained within a woven sock. The typical wattle is 100 feet in length with a diameter of 12 inches (other sizes are available). Wattles can be used during the construction phase of a project to facilitate erosion control. The team identified other usages of wattles as well, e.g. used for storm drain, curb storm inlet protection and the reduce pollutants in storm water runoff.
Results from the team’s Environmental Analysis identified key competitors, their key attributes and advantages and how they compare to Green Recycling Wattles. The team then focused on the existing product markets, e.g. highway construction, residential and industrial construction, agriculture, municipal storm water control and gardening. They took this information and developed a marketing plan for each potential market. The plan focused on GRW competitive advantages, positioning, cost, sustainability, etc. They provided Mr. James Maides, Owner of Green Recycling Wattles LLC, with a comprehensive list of potential clients in North Carolina including owners of “solar farms” that benefit from the wattles’ storm water control. Finally, they reviewed the potential impact of the “proposed” infrastructure investment by the USA to repair and replace roads, bridges, sewers, etc.
As team member, Matt Mylott said, “The Learning Alliance was an incredible opportunity for our team to make real-world applications with the processes, strategies, and concepts we’d spent the last year learning. This project validated so much of the program’s content by allowing each one of us to play an active and vital role to building the client’s business and driving revenue.”
When asked about the experience, Mr. Maides stated, “I am not surprised that our “MBA Team” was chosen as the Most Value Added Team. They were able to think outside of the box and present ideas that I had not even considered, for example, the differences between my company and my competitor and the ability to show me how to turn those differences into competitive advantages. Their marketing list of possible vendors was extensive. They were thinking on a more global basis rather than a regional basis. It was exciting to hear their presentations. I plan on taking some of their ideas and put them into practice.”
To learn more about Cameron’s Professional MBA Program, visit http://csb.uncw.edu/MBA/index.html.