A new course, required for all incoming first-year and transfer students, puts the LMU College of Business Administration’s mission into practice from the start. “Business for Good,” which was taught for the first time over summer 2020, resulted in four groups of students presenting business plans for projects focusing on particular challenges in Mexico and Honduras to a panel of business faculty and experts.
“Business for Good” was taught by Madhu Viswanathan, professor of marketing and business law, and Joe Andriano, J.D., assistant dean for student engagement. Viswanathan lauded the student groups, who tackled education, health, and livelihood in subsistence markets.
“They developed a mission and Business for Good Code for their proposed startup enterprise,” he said. “They experienced and enacted a bottom-up approach to understanding problems in such marketplaces (low income contexts), designing business solutions, and developing plans for implementation. They demonstrated how their startups would be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.”
The nearly 20 students split into groups that were tasked in researching and presenting on a problem and its business-viable solution. The students conducted virtual interviews with potential beneficiaries and stakeholders and delivered presentations via Zoom on a preparatory school for Guerro, Mexico; a sustainable water supply in Honduras; a farm-based education system in Honduras; and a medical equipment supply chain in Honduras.
“Our guests asked some really tough questions of our students,” Andriano said, “and I was incredibly impressed with the depth of their knowledge and poise in answering those questions. The presentations and question-and-answer period demonstrated how deeply they had thought through and researched their projects.”
The panelists were captivated with the finished products. “I was so very impressed with these presentations,” said CBA Dean Dayle Smith. “They demonstrated a sophisticated analysis and understanding of business principles way beyond what one would expect of first-year students. Our faculty are in for a treat as these students continue their business studies.”
Lawrence Kalbers, associate dean for faculty and academic initiatives and the R. Chad Dreier Chair in Accounting Ethics, agreed. “The presentations were outstanding. If this is what your level is now, I would love to see what you’re doing in a year or two.” Also on the panel were Ron Duncan, who was also part of the instructional team, and Renee Cowan, director of development for the D.K. Kim Foundation.
The mission of CBA states, “We advance knowledge and develop business leaders with moral courage and creative confidence to be a force for good in the global community.” Requiring all first-year and transfer students to apply their nascent business skills for a common-good project will put them on track to develop the qualities that CBA stresses. “Students who are just starting out their college experiences took on every challenge put in front of them. Indeed, the future is in good hands!” said Viswanathan.