Analyzing how a company operates is an important part of any MBA program. Penn State’s online Intercollege MBA (iMBA) takes this educational analysis a step further by involving iMBA students in real-world learning. Earlier this year, 54 students who have been working together online met in person to study Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
“iMBA students examine a company externally and internally, using financial, strategic and organizational lenses,” said Ashutosh Deshmukh, iMBA program chair and professor of accounting and MIS at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, which administers the iMBA program. “During the residency, they visit the organization, listen and question top executives. Student teams then prepare a deep analysis of the company, which is made available to the company at no cost. The student analysis has been found useful by most companies.”
Most iMBA students are mid-level managers working in the business field. The company residency is designed for these students to take advantage of what they already know and what they are learning in the MBA program. Previous residencies have been held at Godiva, Bayer Materials Science, Michelin North America, QVC, Pittsburgh Pirates, EQT, Ruskin and other companies. A second one-week residency engages students in a large-scale business simulation.
Matthew J. Wain, chief administrative officer for Penn State Hershey Medical Center, said, “Healthcare is very complex and is experiencing a number of changes. I believe the iMBA students will find balancing what works and what makes us successful today is not necessarily what will make us successful in the future.” Wain hopes students will “identify areas of opportunity that we can then use our knowledge of healthcare to hone in on.”
iMBA student Karen Helbling, vice president of project management at Hipcricket, a mobile marketing company in Atlanta, participated in last year’s residency at Tampico, a Chicago beverage company. “Until that point, we had been applying our education to our individual work experiences,” she said. “In the residency, we were able to see how our learning applied to a company the cohort could all share in common.”
The iMBA program is a collaboration of Penn State Behrend, Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies, Penn State Harrisburg, and Smeal College of Business at University Park campus. Since it started in fall 2002, about 650 students from the United States and many countries have graduated.