This July, as part of the revised MBA program being introduced in the college this fall, the Office for the Study of Business Illues (OSBI) was established. The office serves as a liaison between students and faculty of the college and the business community, acting as a clearinghouse for internships and consulting projects. One of the express aims of the OSBI is to give students the opportunity to gain management experience while enrolled in the program. Students on the consulting teams will be able to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to practical business problems. The office also facilitates interdisciplinary teaching and research.
The office is a service business staffed by a full-time director and MBA students. Members of the corporate, government, and not-for-profit sectors are invited to hire our MBA students as consultants to solve their business problems. The office will also act as an incubator for new venture formation.
In mid-August InSight talked with several members of the group responsible for breathing life into the Office for the Study of Business Issues: Lillian Sharpley, who earned and MBA in 1995 and is associate director of the office and in charge of Consulting Operations; Jamie Hyatt, a first year MBA, who is working with Academic Programs; Stephen Vivian, also a first year MBA, who is organizing the "Entrepreneurial Laboratory", Anca Turcanu, second year MBA who is heading up the Continuous Improvement unit; and Jeff Kurtz, first year MBA, who is a student consultant working on one of the six pilot consulting projects being tested this fall. Teams of 4-5 MBA students are assigned to each project.
Over the years the office will preserve the knowledge gained in individual projects by developing case studies. These will be used in the classroom and submitted for publication and sale. The work of the office will be interdisciplinary across colleges and fields of study.
The OSBI will foster interaction with members of the business community. Executives will be invited to share their expertise with students and faculty in the program. They will also be encouraged to establish relationships with them that lead to consulting and internships. This is a mutual beneficial arrangement.
During these early stages, the office id developing several databases-of business people, of MBA alumni, and of students-which can be used to match projects with consulting teams and to bring executives to campus.
The MBA program is both the beneficiary of and the resource-provider to the OSBI. The office will provide a site for group projects, it will increase student's work experience and ultimately their employability, and it will provide valuable feedback about the curriculum through its emphasis on case studies and interdisciplinary learning. Eventually the OSBI is expected to generate revenues sufficient to support not only its own activities, but to lend support to special programs in the MBA program.
For more information about the Office for the Study of Business Issues and other innovative programs that make up the all new Illinois MBA please call: 217-244-8344 (for OSBI) or 1-800-MBA_UIUC (for general MBA program), or access our home page on the World Wide Web: net:http://mba.cba.uiuc.edu.