There’s nothing better than a challenging consulting project for Oregon Executive MBA faculty Gudrun Granholm and Dave Garten to keep their teaching sharp. It’s an extra bonus when the project has a strong social benefit.
In a few months Garten will teach alliances and acquisitions to second-year executive MBA students and negotiations to first years. Granholm will teach financial analysis to first-year students. But before they get back to 200 Market Street, they have an assignment in Africa. Next week, both will travel to Kampala, Uganda, to help Mercy Corps with what the two describe as some of their most absorbing, creative, and challenging work.
While most people know Mercy Corps as a first responder, economic development is another key mission for the organization. Once a year, Garten and Granholm provide special training for Mercy Corps program managers in countries where the organization has operations. (Previous destinations included Thailand and the Republic of Georgia.)
At the start of the training session, Garten and Granholm ask each participant to develop a one-page statement about the most critical social problem in their country. During the following two weeks, they work with the program managers to develop a sustainable economic solution (that is, a business) to solve that problem.
Both instructors bring a wealth of private-sector experience to these international consulting projects. Granholm’s 30-year consulting career includes such clients as Boeing, HP, Cisco Systems, and Standard Insurance. Garten has been director of business development for Intel and CEO of SeQuential Biofuels, Inc. He has also held various product management, marketing, strategy, and engineering positions in the technology and automotive industries.