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MBA Gateway Practicum focuses on business skills and Dominican values

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business has launched a new MBA course designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop their practical business skills and, equally as important, to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the university’s history and mission. The new MBA Gateway Practicum, which is required of students following their completion of their foundation courses, covers the “how’s” and “why’s” that make a Dominican MBA unique in the Chicago market.

Earlier this month, 18 MBA students met for an immersive four-day program during which they tackled a real-world business challenge presented by executives of Bimbo Bakeries and visited the Motherhouse of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, the university’s founding order.

Before the program started, students received an intensive orientation to the university’s library, where they were introduced to available business publications and the research tools they can use as they progress through the MBA program.  

Students met with Bimbo representatives to learn about the company, which owns six of the top-12 bakery brands in the country, including Sara Lee, Brownberry and Entenmann’s. Working in teams, each of which was monitored by a Brennan facilitator, the students then spent two days developing ideas for expanding the distribution of its product line.

As part of the preparation for their project, students traveled to local retail stores to meet with Bimbo representatives and to see how the company’s products were positioned. Students talked with on-site employees and customers and several even contacted relatives—mothers, grandmothers and aunts—to gauge their bakery preferences. At the end of the second day, the teams presented to Bimbo executives their strategies for meeting the company’s challenge. The teams’ recommendations were evaluated by the executives, who offered valuable feedback and encouragement. In addition, the students received feedback on their team-building skills from Brennan facilitators.

On Saturday, the students traveled to the Motherhouse in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin where they learned about the history of the Dominican Sisters; the journey of Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, the founder of the Dominican Order; and shared personal insights about their own journeys.

 “This program is specifically designed to show students the connection between our business school and the university’s mission, which is infused throughout our curriculum. It’s not enough for our students to graduate with strong business skills. We want them to understand what makes a Dominican MBA different—and that is the values that have been instilled by our Sisters,” said Robert Curci, dean of the Brennan School of Business.

“The weekend was very powerful,” Curci continued. “The bonds that were made and the relationships that were developed will impact the students throughout their MBA experience and after they graduate. As they are challenged throughout their careers, they will reflect back on this weekend to find answers.”

The MBA Gateway Practicum is part of a revision and revitalization of the AACSB-accredited Brennan MBA program. To expedite students’ progress, foundation courses in accounting, statistics, management, finance and business law have been compressed into intensive, sequential one-credit formats. Subsequent three-credit core courses are rooted in experiential learning, and the capstone course is centered on applied strategic development, utilizing the knowledge and skills students have learned from previous courses.

An expanded electives program allows students to deepen their skills in seven highly marketable specialty areas—data analytics, health care administration, international business, accounting, finance, leadership, and marketing. Throughout the MBA program, students receive invaluable one-on-one career advising through a unique Executives-in-Residence program and many opportunities for study abroad.

These enhancements are intended to give students the important head start they need to become effective, ethical entrepreneurs and business leaders in today’s rapidly changing global economy.