Undergraduate students taking Marketing Principals and Management at Alverno College aren’t getting lectures or run-of-the-mill assignments. They’re working with local businesses to help them develop comprehensive marketing plans. Students receive real-world experience, and they come away with a robust piece for their portfolios. The businesses owners, often lacking any marketing expertise, are looking at their companies through fresh lenses and getting a step-by-step plan designed to get their businesses in front of potential clients.
“The students’ enthusiasm is off the charts,” said Stephanie Gregory, instructor for the class and outreach director for Alverno’s MBA program. “They’re realizing they can use their education to influence someone’s life and business, and they’re very passionate about it.” The idea for this innovative approach to the class was born nearly a year ago when faculty from the School of Business at Alverno met with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC). WWBIC identified a need that many of their clients have, and the faculty saw an opportunity for their students to help out, while at the same time getting a valuable hands-on learning experience. Last semester Gregory’s students worked with five area businesses: Camino, Coffee With a Conscience, Divine Scents, In Home Personal Care Services and Tu Casa. In Home Personal Care owner Natassah Love had a goal of adding two new clients, and she added five.
This semester students are working with four local businesses: Retro Café, Dances With Dogs, House of Fashion and Bobby Drake. The process begins with a meeting between owners and the students to talk about the challenges facing each organization. Students then do a SWOT analysis (a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and make their initial recommendations. Two businesses are changing their names, and one has already totally revamped its website, all based on the student recommendations. “Their ideas about changing the website, fun ideas for each day, and stickers for the cafe have increased my traffic flow both on my website and in-store,” said Aalia Scott, owner of Retro Café. “Since these have been implemented, our café is on top of search criteria on Google.”
Jordan Mackin, an international student from Northern Ireland, is loving the chance to work with business owners. “My home university is grounded more in academic theory and research as opposed to working directly with companies,” she said. “Getting the chance to collaborate with business owners is incredibly fulfilling and an opportunity which I wouldn’t get at my university back home.”
By mid-semester, marketing plans are taking shape, business owners are seeing results and the students are excited to see how the business owners are responding. By the time the semester wraps up in mid-May, the small businesses will have complete marketing plans that they can use, and the students will have a greater appreciation of what marketing strategy is and the value it brings to an organization.
The class will continue to be offered for the foreseeable future, and there are plans to expand it into the college’s degree completion program. At the beginning of this semester, WWBIC had over 30 businesses on a waiting list. Alverno College, in particular the School of Business, and WWBIC have a long-standing partnership, dedicated to providing an immersive education for students, while creating widespread value to the community. Businesses interested in teaming up with Alverno students should contact WWBIC at 414-263-5450.
Business students taking Marketing Principals & Management are getting some great real-world experience while helping local small businesses with their marketing plans. BizTimes featured the class and their efforts in their Nonprofit Weekly.
Eileen Sherman, Ph.D., has been appointed Dean of Alverno College’s School of Business. In this role, she will provide leadership to the School of Business, partner with faculty to foster student achievement, and strengthen partnerships between the College and local businesses.
“We are thrilled to have Eileen join us as the new dean of the School of Business,” said Kathleen O’Brien, senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “She brings a wealth of higher education and business experience to her new role that will help the school further refine its strategic vision and continue to develop graduates who can provide significant value to their employers.”
Sherman brings 21 years of experience in higher education to the College. She comes to Alverno from Cardinal Stritch University where she served as an associate dean in the undergraduate school of their College of Business and Management and as an associate professor. In that role, she led the strategic and operational efforts for both the adult accelerated and traditional undergraduate business programs, which serve over 2,500 students. Sherman also worked as a curriculum specialist, developing and improving curriculum for associate-level through master-level coursework for non-traditional students. Prior to her work at Stritch, Sherman also taught at Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin.
Sherman earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Worcester State College, and her Master of Business Administration degree from Boston University. She earned her Ph.D. from Marquette University in 1995. Sherman is currently a member of the International Leadership Association, the Academy of Management and the National Association of Women Executives.
The Alverno College School of Business offers undergraduate majors in business and management, international business, marketing and management accounting. Approximately 1,700 Alverno alums with business degrees are currently working in Wisconsin. Alverno College also offers a Master’s degree in Business Administration, open to both women and men. Alverno’s MBA program offers a cross-functional approach that incorporates the core knowledge areas of business into every class. These core areas include: finance, human resources, macroeconomics and global economics.
Alverno College will host the 2nd annual Paraguay Economic Forum on February 6. The forum is expected to attract several Paraguayan officials, including Dr. Victor Britez Chamorro, chancellor of the National University of the East, Ciudad del Este; Dr. Rolando Segovia, director of International Affairs for the National University of the East, Ciudad del Este; Jose Otano, commercial attaché of the Republic of Paraguay in Miami; Dr. Alberto Poletti, J.D. and Dr. Mirian Medina de Britez.
The goal of the forum is to provide Wisconsin businesses opportunities to invest in and export to the Republic of Paraguay. The forum came about after a student in Alverno’s MBA program developed her own independent study, and others quickly jumped on board. “Alverno offers such a unique learning experience,” said Carol Vollmer Pope, an associate professor of Business who led the class. “This whole forum came about because of their hard work and dedication.” Students focused on topics including Paraguayan culture, infrastructure, natural resources, agriculture, economics, business development and tourism, and will present their findings at the conference.
“Paraguay is one of the most business friendly countries in South America, and recent political changes there are opening doors to the expansion of foreign ventures,” said Sue DaBaco, an Alverno MBA student involved in the forum. “We want to take this opportunity to establish ties between Paraguayan government officials and Wisconsin businesses. This really is a win-win for everyone.”
The cost to attend is $10 and includes lunch. The program is free for those not taking part in the lunch. For more information or to register for the event, please go to http://www.alverno.edu/pef/.