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Sep 20, 2023

A Summer with Partners/Friends Across the Pond

Sponsored Content provided by Robert Burrus - Dean , Cameron School of Business - UNC-Wilmington

This piece was contributed by Rebecca Guidice, Professor of Management and Executive MBA Director within CSB.
The Cameron School of Business Executive MBA Program began and ended the summer with our partner and friend from across the pond - the Surrey Business School of Guildford England Together, two truly international residencies were realized. For both MBA programs, the objective of every consulting residency is to find synergy among graduate education, seasoned professionals, and a business seeking assistance from highly educated professionals to help address an important strategic issue.
This synergistic relationship occurred on each side of the Atlantic. In early May, twenty-seven UNCW MBA students and three Surrey MBA students along with several faculty and staff from each institution met in Prague, Czech Republic. These students consulted with Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth, an Eastern European manufacturer of stationery products. The strategic challenge was to develop a viable strategy on how best to maintain, yet tailor, its ESG-focused operating modality when entering Latin America. The team’s recommendations would also, where feasible, be used as a model for future expansions into African and Asian countries.
Then in late August, ten UNCW MBA students and two Surrey MBA students, along with several faculty and staff from both schools of business, met in Wilmington, North Carolina. For this project, students consulted with Precision Swiss Products (PSP), a US-based medical device contract manufacturer. The strategic challenge was to conduct an in-depth, foreign market analysis and accompanying risk assessment of several countries in Europe that the company was considering entering. The students were also charged with using their research to develop a set of recommendations on where to proceed and how best to approach those competitive markets. 
Sounds like reasonable projects, right? Well, there’s a twist – the consulting project must be completed in five days! While yes, there is some initial independent research conducted before everyone coalesces in the selected location, the real work does not begin until the first day together. While the Cameron School of Business Executive MBA program has successfully used a five-day format for several years, it isn’t uncommon for the client and at times, graduate students, to doubt that a sophisticated and implementable strategic solution is possible in such a short time. The delight when the results are impressive is always rewarding for all involved. 
Undeniably, unique and valuable things happen when MBAs from a wide range of professions share their unique experience, diverse talents, and advanced education to solve a strategic issue for a company. While the list is long, this summer’s talent pool included lawyers, engineers, military officers, project and operations managers, HR specialists, and healthcare providers to name just a few. The benefits of this collaboration and tenacity are probably best described by our graduate students and the client. For example, 

  • “We researched, collaborated, and brainstormed; we worked tirelessly, but we also had fun! And five days later, we delivered the plan to the client - something that seemed impossible on day one and yet we did it!” ~ Julia Nekrasova, University of Surrey, PSP residency
  • “I actually spoke about the residency the other day during an interview. I highlighted it on my resume, and the interviewers loved it. It is not every day that government employees have experiences such as the one I experienced while in Prague. I think I spent more time talking about that one week than my previous six years working in my current organization.” ~ Rama Fazel, UNCW, Kohn-I-Noor residency
  • “We really appreciate the time you all put into this. I promise you one thing, this work will not be a waste because we are going to put these recommendations in place.” ~ Norbert Kozar, CEO PSP
  • “Mission accomplished. We received the deliverable for the piece on ESG I was interested in.” ~ Lukáš Dušek, Product and Marketing Manager, Kohn-I-Noor
  • “Embarking on an MBA program like no other, our journey took us beyond the classroom and into the enchanting city of Prague. As we ventured into the heart of Europe, we immersed ourselves in a unique blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and thriving entrepreneurial spirit. From exploring the majestic Prague Castle to delving into the thriving business scene, our time in Prague promised to be an extraordinary experience, offering invaluable insights into global business practices and fostering connections with international thought leaders.” ~ Holly Lloyd, UNCW, Kohn-I-Noor residency
  • “It was intense and challenging but rewarding! The 661-acre wooded University of North Carolina was our beautiful home for a week!” ~ Betty Jensen, University of Surrey, PSP residency
While it is no doubt an intense week requiring significant tenacity and collaboration, the Executive MBAs do experience a little fun and cultural exposure. Those in the May/Prague residency enjoyed a night at the Mozart Opera, a tour of Budweiser Budvar Brewery, and walking tours of Prague and Cesky. Those in the August/Wilmington residency enjoyed a tour of the port, a water tour of the Cape Fear River, and for our Surrey guests, a late afternoon venture to Wrightsville Beach. 
This summer’s residencies would not be possible without the assistance of the organizations that locate and connect the Cameron School of Business Executive MBA Program with the client. In Prague, we are fortunate to work in partnership with GIOBA Consulting Programs. In Wilmington, we work with the Small Business Technology Development Center, a UNCW-affiliated entity that offers personalized business counseling and strategy development services.

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