Do You Think Like An MBA?

Isn’t learning to “think like an MBA” the reason we are all here pursuing a Masters in Business Administration?

Having a degree doesn’t necessarily mean you are able to think or act like an MBA. Successful MBA’s are able to pull together resources, information, and ideas from multiple sources in order to create impactful business solutions. The Suffolk MBA program is now offering a course intended to develop these necessary skills and tools to utilize in real-world situations, and of course, to ultimately think like an MBA.

“MGES 803 – Think Like An MBA” is an Entrepreneurship elective hybrid course of 3 credits taught over a short three week period. The curriculum moves quickly in an intense face-to-face and online format. What seemed to be an extremely demanding and overwhelming class, turned into a very energetic, fun environment with a high degree of participation and continuous constructive feedback from the professor and colleagues. By the end, not only you will be able to identify and analyze problems more clearly, brainstorm uninhibited alternatives, and create credible innovative business solutions, but you will also acquire the confidence and persuasiveness to do so.

The Course Structure

Although the classes meet twice a week, don’t be mistaken, there will be something for you to do every day until the end of the course. “Think Like an MBA” will also introduce you to many tools and online platforms that will help you to collaborate in teams and accomplish the workload successfully. They are:

  • Wall Street Journal Online Subscription – The individual problem-solving assignments and practice presentations will be based on up-to-date WSJ articles. So if you do not read the news every day, this class will be a great reason to start and add that to your MBA life routine!
  • VoiceThread  – Feedback is the main part of this course and VoiceThread facilitates it for you. The online tool allows you to upload your practice presentations online and have ongoing digital conversations with your colleagues. Everyone will participate in each others’ presentations by commenting via text, audio, and video posts.
  • Padlet –  This online tool will allow you to collect information, organize thoughts, and share the research data for your final presentation between your team members more easily and efficiently.

All these applications will give you the necessary understanding and instruments to apply to the final presentation. In the final presentation, you and your team will be analyzing a real company and assessing its current problematic situation. For the class of Fall 2017 the focused companies were: Staples, Chipotle, Uber, United Airlines and Whole Foods.

If you think it could not get more real than that, it can, and it will. The final presentation is given to an outside panel of entrepreneurship professors representing the company’s Board and C-suite members. They will evaluate you as harshly as they would be in an actual business conference meeting. But don’t you worry – it is all constructive criticism!

– Isabela O. Daudt, MBA ’19


The Suffolk MBA

MBA offsite pic

Jodi Detjen, MBA Director and Eric Curtis, Lecturer and Strategy Designer lead MBA faculty and administration in an off-site brainstorming session.

As the academic year comes to a close, we took the time to reflect on the first year of the new MBA curriculum. Collaboration is vital to the success of the MBA therefore, the team plans to meet annually to reflect, grow and enrich the program.

23 professors and administrators were present. We looked at what was working and where we could improve. One of our strategic imperatives is identifying ways we can better integrate Boston area businesses into the program and classroom.

Ever been involved in a strategic offsite planning day? It’s a lot of fun and it’s intense. It’s done using a lot of stickies and flip charts. We start by doing a SWOT analysis.  We then prioritize ideas in each area. Then grouping the ideas together, we brainstorm ideas for implementing the strategic idea.

It’s an annual process that enables us to continuously improve and build the program.

Building leaders and designing strategy for success

We live in a world of rapid change, instant gratification, and fast communication. In order to lead teams, departments, and/or companies over the period of several years towards a vision or set of goals, we must be able to stretch our thinking over longer time horizons. We must be able to interpret vastly complex eco-systems and understand how to navigate through them. And we must be able to do all of this through the ability to lead and influence employees, board members, and stakeholders groups.

The MBA 760 course is about creating an experience for students to understand strategy design and the leadership skills necessary to implement a plan over long time horizons. We work with students to understand how to conduct strategic planning and analysis, how to facilitate employees or stakeholders through the process, and how to make decisions in complex situations.

Our class uses 34 problem solving models, a business model canvas, and leadership case studies to create an experience that engages students and balances process with leadership. Suffolk students get to experience real problems that companies are facing today and in the future, and design strategy to position a company to ensure viability and competitiveness.

Students will build a strategic plan and business model for a company they select, and get to think through innovative solutions for designing the future. eric curtisDuring Spring ’17, our students represented FitBit, Starbucks, Southwest and Zipcar during their final Strategic Plans.

As an adjunct faculty, my greatest pleasure in teaching is getting to learn from the students’ ideas, points-of-view, and insights. We learn together.

– Eric Curtis, Professor of Strategic Management


Images from final presentation:

Collaboration, the new tool for success in the global economy

MBA 720 – Collaboration was created to give students skills necessary to compete in the global economy. As businesses become more and more complex, being able to collaborate across departments, companies, and cultures is a critical competency.  MBA 720 embeds three skills critical to effective collaboration: leading people and teams, values-based decision-making, and project management.

Leading people examines leadership styles, conflict-negotiation tactics and effective decision-making in teams. Project Management introduces effective tools to manage and monitor projects in highly complicated and high-pressure work environments. Value-based decision-making covers how to identify and manage stakeholder relationships and how to navigate the complexities of ethical dilemmas in a global business environment.

Students have the opportunity to apply their learning in a real-time consulting challenge. Student groups meet with a business client to learn about a challenge they are facing in the realm of collaboration, research this challenge and present solutions to the client at the end of the semester.  This gives students the opportunity to apply what they’re learning in the real world, to get a feel for consulting work, and to network with local professionals. This semester we had the pleasure of working with Bank of America, which challenged students not only with knowledge of the banking industry but also to expand their knowledge on how large multinationals operate.

My expectation for this course is that students will learn tools to increase their collaboration competencies. macleanMy goal is to finish the semester with students who are better equipped to work across boundaries and are able to work with stakeholders to collaborate in pursuit of mutual value.

– Tammy Maclean, PhD
, Director of the Center for Executive Education and Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship


Take an innovative course about innovation: MBA 730 – Innovate

The Suffolk University MBA has been created with you, the student, at its core. It has been designed to give you deep yet integrated knowledge and skills to solve a client’s innovation problems. For the entire course, we have one client company with an innovation challenge. Past clients include DraftKings (daily fantasy sports) and Liberty Mutual (insurance). These are very different companies in totally different industries. Yet they both have innovation challenges. This course is unlike any you have taken before.

Innovation is a critical foundational component for today’s manager. It does not exist, however, in a traditional vacuum relegated to a single discipline or a single class. Suffolk Innovation spans those traditional boundaries. Entrepreneurial thinking is a critical element in the creation, growth, and sustainability of an organization. In new ventures, entrepreneurs drive innovation with limited resources and in existing organizations, corporate entrepreneurs may have an abundance of resources but have to develop new skills to navigate innovation through a hierarchical structure in a complex global organization. In both new ventures and existing organization businesses compete in a highly digital, inter-networked global economy. Information technology, strategically selected and implemented, can provide a significant, competitive advantage. The law as Framework often provides the framework under which entrepreneurial thinking and technology selection exists. Not understanding the legal implications of protecting intellectual property and securing data while not realizing individual and corporate liability are just a few examples of regulatory pitfalls. Together, these three elements – Entrepreneurial Thinking, Information Technology, and The Law as Framework – are the foci of the course.

We are visited at the start of the semester by an executive from the client company to describe their innovation challenge(s). We then focus on the three aspects taught by three SBS faculty members, each focused on one of the aspects. Learning from those modules is both general and particular to the client company. We learn via a variety of methods, including ideation and opportunity evaluation, business case discussions, technology presentations, and legal case discussions. kamisFinally, we synthesize your specific ideas into a proposal at the end of the semester. That is when the executive returns to hear your proposal. This is academic theory firmly situated in a real-world business context and problem solving. Where will it take you?

– Arnold Kamis, Professor of Information System and Operations Management


MBA 770 Leading and Implementing Change is a course where students learn about change by experimenting with change! And they can use what they learn in their experiments throughout their lives. Students can develop a powerful mental map or model about change leadership and about themselves as change leaders. They are encouraged to ask themselves, “How can I add value by identifying what is coming and what is needed in the unfolding process of change in my work and in my life?”  Students learn that change is not a one-time event but is instead something that is ever present in life. They become aware of changes on the horizon in their work environments before the majority of people around them. Our students can stand out in the marketplace because of the ability they have developed to sense and anticipate the emerging and unfolding changes in their organizations’ futures, and because of their capacity to lead that change process creatively and collaboratively.

Throughout the semester, we use multiple learning approaches, defining, understanding and experiencing the strategic value of change in organizations. This course is uniquely structured to include a challenging simulation, a collaborative client focused consulting project, and an insightful reflection and feedback assessment of their change leadership strengths and skills as they move forward in their careers.

First, students experience the change process through an engaging on-line, team-based simulation called ExperienceChange. Students experiment with various choices to successfully address organizational challenges. Together they must figure out which change tactics to implement, which stakeholders to approach and at what time, while managing a budget over the course of the simulated change situation. Along the way they get feedback indicating whether their tactics have been successful.

Secondly, students develop their change leadership skills via a team-based, client-focused project in one of the four Boston area industry clusters. Students help a client organization respond to a strategic change or environmental disruption. Students learn to see the world from the client’s perspective, to stand in their shoes, feel their pain points, and to apply design thinking to prototype solutions in an iterative, on-going way. They work with the client to collaboratively develop innovative solutions. And by doing so, they create buy-in to those solutions among organizational stakeholders.

Finally, throughout the course, students reflect on their career aspirations, revisiting their career plan and vision for the future, a process which was started at the beginning of their MBA. They interview a change leader to learn how that leader approaches the change process in his/her work. And they collect feedback from those who know them well to identify the heart of their strengths and skills as change leaders. dumasStudents integrate lessons from these multiple sources to create greater fit and clarity between their strengths, skills, and their career aspirations as they successfully move forward with their lives.
– Dr. Colette Dumas, Professor, Organizational Behavior and Entrepreneurship

Suffolk’s new MSBA seeks to fill future jobs

The advancement of technology has engulfed not only some people’s personal lives, but gripped hold of the business world as well. In order to keep up with the constant demand for professionals that are adequately trained to increase capital from big data, Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School has announced that it will introduce a master of science in business analytics, or MSBA, program in the fall of 2017.

This STEM-designated program will serve as an “avenue to a career change for STEM graduates who seek to extend and apply their quantitative and analytical abilities in business analytics,” according to a Suffolk University press release this week.

Chair and Professor of Information Systems and Operations Management Ken Hung, who has worked to facilitate the initiation of this program, said in an interview with The Suffolk Journal on Wednesday afternoon that this program holds a vital importance.

“This really could be one of the foundation skills as important as reading or writing,” said Hung. “This is information literacy, and particularly data literacy.”

The idea for the MSBA began five years ago; Hung said that by thinking about the business school’s curriculum and the department’s stance on big data, the groundwork was laid. After an undergraduate minor was launched within the past few years, the push for a graduate program was brought about last year, and just recently approved by the Board of Trustees.

This new area of study at Suffolk will provide students preparation in order to utilize business analytics technology and apply the methods in their fields. Job growth in this sector is projected to increase to as many as 190,000 by 2018, according to research from the McKinsey Global Institute.

“I think in the larger context many organizations including business and nonprofit organizations accept the idea of data driven decision making,” said Hung. “That means companies need to know how to gather, store and manage their data.”

Students of this new MSBA program have the option to complete it in one year of full-time study, which has four concentrations; finance, healthcare, accounting and marketing.
“One of our goals really is to give students a top-notch education that is needed by the industry,” said Hung. “In this case in the realm of business analytics, we have companies who have the ideas and the technologies enabling them but they really need the people to execute this analysis.”

Source: The Suffolk Journal 

Outcome Capital and Sawyer Business School Partnership

Outcome Capital, LLC today announced a collaboration with Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School aimed at providing graduate-level students with real-world exposure to business challenges in the life sciences, health care services and technology sectors. Outcome Capital is a global investment banking firm that provides strategic and transactional expertise to boards and management teams seeking to carve out a path to liquidity or raise growth capital.

“Our aim is the help bridge the gap between academia and industry, to better prepare business students for rapid and more effective integration into the business world, and to make Outcome Capital a recognized center of knowledge and creative, strategic thinking,” said Oded Ben-Joseph, Ph.D., Managing Director, Outcome Capital. “We are strongly committed to young talent, and the Sawyer Business School has long recognized that students benefit greatly from getting early, real-world experience as a key part of their education. Our team is passionate about what we do and excited to partner with Suffolk University to pass on to a new generation of business leaders the wealth of knowledge gained over our many years of advising and working closely with companies to enhance corporate value and implement the best path to success.”

Students will gain early exposure to life sciences technologies and transactions in a team environment. They will work collaboratively with analysts, vice presidents and senior bankers to develop a clear value proposition and a strategic vision, definition of sector dynamics and paths to liquidity. These graduate students also will assist in building market and revenue models and valuation through comparable value and discounted cash flow models, as well as research various transaction structures.

“Since our beginning in 1937, it has been the Sawyer Business School’s mission to help transform our students into effective business professionals through globally focused, hands-on experience with top business leaders and real-life challenges,” said Michael Behnam, PhD, Dean of Graduate Programs and Academic Affairs at the Sawyer Business School in Boston. “We are very pleased to collaborate with the professionals of Outcome Capital to broaden the exposure we can offer our students within these important and growing industry sectors. It is the perfect fit with our redesigned MBA curriculum that focuses on experiential, collaborative learning focused on Boston’s world class clusters in biotech, healthcare, finance and high-tech.”

“The Outcome Capital team has gained considerable knowledge through our more than 18 years of advisory, transactional, and hands-on operational experience with middle-market companies,” said Eilon Amir, Vice president, Outcome Capital. “The collaboration with the Sawyer Business School is our first step in our outreach program to build a close relationship with top academic institutions where we can help foster business leadership and support management success.”

About Outcome Capital

Outcome Capital is a unique investment banking firm that provides middle-market growth companies in the life sciences, health care services and technology markets with a value-added client-centric approach to merger, acquisition and corporate finance advisory services. The firm utilizes its proven approach to value enhancement by assisting boards and management teams in navigating both the financial and strategic markets and in implementing the best path for success. Outcome Capital’s strength stems from its unique ability to draw on its wide range of operational, strategic and private equity experience, its expertise across the value building life-cycle, and its broad industry relationships. The professionals at Outcome Capital take pride in their ability to help their clients to make well-informed strategic decisions and recognize the full value created by their vision. For more information, visit:

About Suffolk University and the Sawyer Business School

Suffolk University, located in historic downtown Boston, with an international campus in Madrid, is a student-centered institution distinguished by excellence in education and scholarship. It offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 90 areas of study through its Sawyer Business School, College of Arts & Sciences and Law School. The Sawyer Business School prepares students to be successful leaders in business and public service and is career-focused from day one. Students gain business knowledge while building a tool kit for personal success.

Source: Boston Citybizlist


MBA 710 and the importance of clusters

The Suffolk University MBA has been revamped to contain some unusual elements that no-one else has. MBA 710 Understanding World Class Clusters is a good example. It is meant to be a distinguishing feature of MBA education at Suffolk. MBA 710 is designed to get people thinking about the Boston economy and the Boston job market. Contrary to conventional pedagogical thinking about MBA programs, we are not trying to master a discipline in this course. We are not trying to “master” anything at all. Instead, we are trying to trigger thought processes about the regional economy and the regional job market to provide our students an edge in the longer term.

The course is a carefully orchestrated learning sequence designed to promote certain habits and mental foci that are not on the radar of most MBA programs. Thinking about the local economy and the local job market fills a gap. The overriding concern of most MBA programs is to offer skills that are as generic and global as possible: the idea is to prepare you to work anywhere in the world. In principle, this may sound good. In practice it means that all MBA programs end up being fairly identical.

Now while most MBA skills may indeed be generic, job markets are local! If you want to navigate the local job market, you need to investigate the local particulars of regional industries. In Boston these are the four clusters of finance, biotech, healthcare and technology. We are not going to survey these clusters in depth, of course. But we can teach a bit of economic geography and provide students with tools to reconnoiter local developments. This means more than just networking. It means learning about current developments in the local industries.

I will let you in on a secret. The role of MBA 710 has evolved a lot from its original purpose. The original idea was simply to develop some course offerings that make better use of Suffolk University’s central urban location. mark-lThat was the initial idea. But the more we looked at how generic other MBA programs were, the more we saw an opportunity to redesign our courses, including but not limited to MBA 710, to give our students an edge in the job market over other MBAs. That does not mean we teach students about the regional economy or the local job market in depth. Simply that we get our students thinking about the Boston economy and the Boston job market early on — at the beginning and not at the end of their MBA studies.

– Mark Lehrer, Professor of Strategy and International Business