On Friday, June 6, five second-year students from the sports business and sustainable business tracks of the Oregon MBA presented the results of a months-long study to representatives from Peregrine Sports LLC, the organization behind the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns soccer teams.
The Timbers and Thorns were looking to enhance their understanding and get actionable guidance on waste diversion, fan travel, community relations, and messaging and sponsorship ideas around green business practices. The Oregon MBA program's Strategic Planning Project, a two-term consulting project for a real-world client that is regarded as the capstone of students' education, seemed like a perfect fit.
It all started back in January when Zack Weisz, MBA '14; Matt Fanelli, MBA '14; Jessie Goodell, MBA '14; Eric Ringer, MBA '14; and Jordan Bloem, MBA '14, began gathering data on the Timbers' and Thorns' current sustainability practices. The students also researched the green business activities of the region's other athletic teams as well as the efforts of soccer teams throughout the United States. With benchmarks in place by the end of winter term, the MBAs spent their spring analyzing their data and preparing their recommendations.
Although the results are subject to an NDA (nondisclosure agreement)—as are all Strategic Planning Project findings for all companies—the experience was an example of how the Oregon MBA connects students to regional businesses to the benefit of both.
“Projects like these are always deeper, wider, and broader than anyone thinks they're going to be," said Center for Sustainable Business Practices program manager Laura Strohm, extolling the virtues that the Strategic Planning Project brings to students. "They are learning to be consultants."
Certainly, the students learned much about the nitty-gritty of corporate sustainability. They've also developed essential skills that they'll use for the rest of their careers.
“One of the most significant things I learned is how important it is to network within the organization you are working with to identify the key stakeholders for each piece of the project," said MBA team member Ringer, who starts this summer as a senior consultant at Hitachi Consulting.
Other companies that the Oregon MBA students had the chance to work with this year on Strategic Planning Projects were Synergy Air, waterwear brand Arena, the Professional Golfers' Association of America, and Nike N7 Fund.