The M.S. in Commerce program incorporates many group projects so students can apply knowledge learned from the classroom to solving a wide variety of business problems in areas like marketing, finance, strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and supply chain management. One major project this fall semester was the Integrated Strategy Project. Every year, the Program partners with a set of companies who have challenging business problems. Each project team selects a company of interest, works as consultants to propose solutions to the business problem, and finally presents their recommendations to senior management of their client company.
Components of the Integrated Strategy Project
The Integrated Strategy Project is similar to a consulting-style case in the sense that students go through the entire project management process and provide practical suggestions to the clients. This is a truly valuable hands-on experience. The project consists of three major components:
Preliminary market research,
Comprehensive client report, and
Final presentation (including a self-made video clip)
In the preliminary research stage, students identified both industrial and economic megatrends that were relevant to their client. They then documented this information in a “Looking around the Corner” report, which included infographics to visually present trends. This stage provided teams the opportunity to fully explore the industry and brainstorm how they wanted to approach the problem.
Upon the completion of the preliminary market research, teams had about two months to examine their client’s business problems holistically. During this time, teams often visited and communicated with their client to finalize a comprehensive strategic plan for the client report.
On the day of the presentation, teams presented their findings and recommendations to the client, professors, and peers. Presentations lasted about 15 minutes and were followed by a Q&A session. The presentation was a fantastic way to practice public speaking and presentation skills that are so critical with any job.
Working with My Project Team
My team had a lot of fun with this project. We chose a premier supermarket chain as our client. Our task was to help them find supply chain solutions to enable pick-up and door-to-door delivery of its newly launched convenient meal selections. Thanks to the prior projects that we had worked on earlier in the semester, my team knew exactly how to support and complement one another based on individual skillsets. This made the whole process smooth and efficient.
At first, our project seemed a bit overwhelming because of all the other competing priorities we had with other classes. However, we saw the project as an opportunity to learn how to better manage our time, stress, and commitments—important skills to have both for personal development and career preparation. In the end, our team bond became even stronger, and we finished the project feeling satisfied with our work.
Overall, this project was a valuable learning experience. Not only did we have the opportunity to expand our repertoire by working on real-world business problems and presenting to a client, but we also developed the business intuition and capability to collaborate as a high performing team. Nothing was more rewarding for us than when we saw all of our hard work transformed into actual solutions for our client.