Students learn from local companies via Global Business Advisors program

February 14, 2014

Master's students in a strategic management class at Indiana State University received professional advice and insight from local companies during a semester-long project.

Indiana Global Business Advisors, or IGloBA, placed students into groups and partnered each group with a company to assess its business strategies and analyze any changes it had undergone in the last few years.

"It was about taking theory and strategy concepts and applying them to a real business," Aruna Chandra, professor of management in the Scott College of Business, said.

One group spent time with the president of a Terre Haute company that is well known nationwide.

Beau Brown of Terre Haute and his group, which included Daniel Millington, Walter Padgett and Mike Snyder, were partnered with Clabber Girl President Gary Morris.

According to the group's analysis, Morris has made many changes to the company since he became president in 1999. Changes included creating a sales team, making working conditions better for employees and developing a "strong and very positive" culture within the company.

"Gary taught me to invest in people," Brown said. "You cannot underestimate the fact that your employees can be your biggest asset or your biggest downfall."

The group also looked at some of the new product opportunities in different industries that Clabber Girl has invested in since Morris became president. Brown said that this gave him a "stronger understanding of what it takes to change the culture and strategy of a business."

"It was interesting to look at the big picture to see what direction you can take a concept or a developed company," he said.

Mike Snyder, who is earning his master's degree in business administration, said that the Clabber Girl partnership allowed him to "view a company through more than one lens" and "use several other tools and strategies" than what are emphasized in the classroom.

"It is absolutely necessary to get out and see what is happening in the real world," Snyder said. "It is far different than being in school because some things must be learned on the job."

IGloBA is a program that Chandra developed with the goal of giving students more hands-on experience in the business world. With the help of the Center for Community Engagement, the program has given students the opportunity to with businesses both locally and globally.

"[IGloBA] allows students to see the link to theory and practice, which is the goal of experiential learning," Chandra said.

Snyder said he sees the value in experiential learning and hands-on learning because it prepares students for success following graduation."It is a great way to show a company what you can do," he said. "I got my first job with the company I interned with. I signed [with them] three months before I graduated."

Brown, who earned his bachelor's degree in insurance and risk management from Indiana State in 2007, said the benefit from working first-hand with successful business professionals has had a positive impact on his educational experience.

"Even though the concepts learned in a classroom environment are essential, they are used in different ways in the industry," he said. "It is important to see different business use the concepts in all different ways in order to know how it will apply to me when I enter an industry."

Contact: Aruna Chandra, professor, management information systems and business education, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-2105 or aruna.chandrasekeran@indstate.edu

Writer: Emily Sturgess, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or esturgess@sycamores.indstate.edu