Student Consultants Tackle Real-World Business Issues

LMU College of Business Administration now offers a new hybrid strategic management course designed to bridge the gap between industry and academia. Over the course of just four weeks, 15 undergraduate students worked in three teams on consulting deliverables for real businesses in Silicon Beach, including:

  • Highland Premiere, a boutique real estate firm, which looked to expand into Northern California
  • Los Angeles Air Force Base Space and Missile Systems Center, which sought to implement a restructuring of its organization for restored agility and military competitiveness
  • Punch Gunk, a consumer goods startup specializing in athletic pain relief, which endeavored to develop a marketing and branding plan for the launch of a new bath bomb product

Led by Management Professor Li Dai, the students reimagined marketing strategies, conducted research to guide expansion efforts, and devised approaches to organizational restructuring before presenting slide decks to their clients and peers at the LMU Playa Vista Campus.

This brand new strategic management course (BADM 4970) leveraged LMU’s proximity to L.A.’s emerging tech hub in Silicon Beach by enlisting the help of two seasoned executives-in-residence: Ed Lee, founder and CEO of HelloAdvisr, a Los Angeles-based growth consultancy focused on helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, and Dave Schwartz, CTO of CapLinked, a Los Angeles-based startup that connects entrepreneurs and investors, and VP of Oblong Industries (directly responsible for the gesture-based and room-scale conferencing systems behind the shared pixel workspaces depicted in films such as Iron Man and Minority Report). Schwartz and Lee, along with Dai, worked closely with the students over the span of three evenings on their final deliverables for the clients.

“The objective of this course was to offer a creative, professional experience for students,” said Dai. “There are no tests or textbooks. Students were asked to deliver professional-grade consulting solutions for a particular problem/opportunity that their assigned client faced, and were treated as consultants in the business world. This type of experiential, project-based course is typically only offered to MBA students at other schools.”

At the final presentations, the clients as well as numerous industry executives and other stakeholders from LMU were impressed with the students’ recommendations and gave honest, critical feedback on their proposed strategies. Pizza Press and Sugarfina provided catered lunch and gift bags as corporate partners.

“Students built their teams and became resourceful outside of a classroom setting, experienced firsthand how industry functions, and gained exposure to the level of professionalism that they need to succeed in the business world,” said Dai. “The confidence that came from working so hard under the guidance of such dedicated and knowledgeable entrepreneurs in residence was evident on the final presentation day.”