This article was contributed by Lee Iapalucci, Web & Social Media Director,
Graduate Programs, UNCW Cameron School of Business
The Cameron School of Business hosted its first hybrid/virtual international residency in the Spring of 2021. This event brought 24 EMBA/OMBA/PMBA students to campus who joined four students virtually, for a total of 28 graduate students. After five intense and highly productive days, the students delivered a 90-minute presentation to Czech client, Packeta Group, with recommendations for growth, logistics, corporate social responsibility, and marketing.
During the week of May 3-May 7, 2021, the graduate students visited UNCW campus for the Virtual Prague Residency led by Drs. Nivine Richie, Rebecca Guidice, and Mark Pelletier and international partner, GIOBA. Typically, this residency takes place in Prague each year; however due to COVID-19 restrictions, adjustments were made to pilot a virtual experience. The five-day long residency acts as a 3-credit course for students to develop teamwork skills as they work in small groups to complete a real-life consulting project for a Czech-based client. The students, nearing the end of their graduate studies, undertook the challenge of completing an international consulting project with Packeta Group, a leading logistic provider in Central and Eastern Europe. Students still found this residency to be a great success, even though the COVID-19 pandemic hindered international travel.
Sharon Ying, an Associate Director of Operations at PPD is a current EMBA student. Ying was attracted to the program due to the two on-site residencies and the international residency requirements. The best part of this residency according to Ying was, “the opportunity to learn from other professionals in the program to meet our deliverables and to reflect on how we have handled similar projects in the past; how all our professional experience helped us create new and innovative ideas for our client in Prague
.” This experience allowed Ying to find confidence in team dynamics, specifically “how to quickly develop working relationships with new colleagues to meet a strict deadline for a client.”
Laura Hall, Physician Assistant and Project Manager for a clinical research organization, equally enjoyed the opportunity to work face-to-face with others as part of a team. Collaborating with others on a project like this one involves working with many types of personalities and work styles. Hall mentioned that she strengthened skills in “teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, perseverance, and patience.”
Having an opportunity to participate in the residency was “a unique opportunity like no other class in the MBA setting,”
according to Hall.
Students in the Cameron School’s MBA programs come from diverse backgrounds. George Earhart is a member of the Armed Forces. Earhart sought to pursue a Master's in Business Administration because agencies within the government and not-for-profits benefit from sound business practices in order to be successful. He was interested in a program that would allow him to participate part-time and accommodate military members, leading him to enroll in the EMBA program. Coming from a military background, teamwork was nothing new for Earnhart. “Group dynamics are important and given a short amount of time to accomplish a task, it's important to be humble, listen to each other with respect, and find the best solution quickly. The right answer may not be the one you came up with but being on a team that gets it right is an incredible feeling,”
shared Earnhart. Flexibility is necessary to accomplish goals, especially when having to account for continuously evolving COVID-19 regulations. “UNCW did a wonderful job adjusting to the constraints of COVID, which allowed many of my colleagues to graduate on time by finishing this requirement,”
Earnhart said. “At the end of the day the mission was accomplished, and our team presented the client with some fantastic insights.”
The client, Packeta Group, was equally impressed. Ms. Simona Kijonková, the company founder reported, “We were positively surprised by the level of delivery, and it seemed to us like [the teams] had been working in our company for quite a time. [The] work inspires us, we will try to implement some of [the] ideas soon. [The students] took it as personally as we do, and that is what professional consulting should look like!”
Looking ahead, all current and future MBA students are welcome to join in upcoming international consulting projects.