05 OCT 2021
A unique MBA experience with NWU Business School
The MBA students at the NWU Business School partake in a very unique company project in their final year of studies. The Association of MBAs (AMBA), where the NWU Business School is accredited, places a high emphasis on “Capstone Projects”. Our MBA students need to complete a Capstone “Company Project” in order to complete their studies.
A Capstone project is a multifaceted body of work that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students. This important project encapsulates the whole MBA curriculum and is presented in the last semester of the MBA studies.
According to Prof Tommy du Plessis, lecturer of the Company Project, it starts with students being clustered in groups of five to eight people. “They are then asked to select a business of choice and the aim is to conduct practical research in the company itself,” he says.
This research includes identifying the strategic path the company has selected, investigating the internal and external environments of the company and then finally design a number of applicable suggestions or recommendations for the company’s management.
This Capstone project is different from other business schools in South Africa in that it addresses the MBA curriculum in a very practical manner. The groups must include a case study of the company in question and Business School’s teaching staff are involved as mentors for the different groups. Groups must also include a suggested implementation plan of their recommendations.
The groups performed exceptionally well in 2021. A total of 58 students partook in this project. They were divided into 12 groups and we would like to boast with some of their work.
A group called DEXTY investigated a construction company. Prof Ronnie Lotriet mentored this group. The group consisted of Elizma Fuller, Gordon Lodder, Anelda van Schalkwyk, Tano Bongers, Nkosinathi Tom and Andries Wessels who acted as group leader. After a strategic analysis of the company, involving interviews and meetings, an environment analysis focusing on various departments within the company was done.
They identified significant gaps in the company’s marketing strategy and application of technological advances within the company. Various recommendations have been proposed with regards to Corporate Governance, Operations, Marketing, Finance and Human Resources. This group of MBA students recommended a five-year implementation plan with various items to be reviewed by the company over the next five years, to enable the best possible strategic alignment and positioning for the company in reaching its strategic objectives.
Another group, the BACK BENCHERS, presented their project on a multi-disciplinary consulting engineering company. The team was made up of Anthea Gaanakgomo, Hein Fielies, Wickus Schelebusch, Zane Derbyshire and Hennie Pretorius as the group leader. Mr. Johan Coetzee helped to guide this group to their success.
They investigated the company’s background, history, current products and services, Operations, Marketing, Finance, Human Resources and Strategic overview. They also looked at the global risk analysis, National Development Plan and value chain. From their internal analysis, they identified opportunities that exist to improve the product and service of their chosen company. They also recommended that the Marketing Strategy should not be an annual process but rather a continuous process due to the fast-changing markets. This group also concluded that the success of this company’s Marketing plan is teamwork and the support of top management. The group identified problems within the company’s Human Resource department, and advice for possible new appointments or outsource of professional individuals to fill positions in the place where some of the employees are responsible for two different positions. The group also advised that should the company consider appointing or outsourcing, this will improve the company’s productivity. Together with that, it was highlighted that the company should have regular internal training for their employees so that they keep up with the growth of the company and to improve the skills and shared knowledge.
The BRAIN POWER TROOPERS group was mentored by Prof Hein Prinsloo and they conducted their research in a company that specialises in material handling equipment. This group comprised of Johan Pretorius, Lisel Dahms, Lizanné Smit, Stanley Taylor and their group leader, Johan Hattingh. They defined the roles and responsibilities of each department, performance and products, and highlighted the challenges that the company face.
They conducted an environmental analysis of the company to analyse their operations. The study was done through an internal and external analysis that allows the company to identify areas where they can improve continuously. This group recommended a Human Resource strategy to their chosen company and developed an implementation schedule for them. They also suggested that it should be merged with the Marketing Strategy in order to become market leaders in their industry.
When the groups present their project (a very nerve wrecking thing to do), a company representative also serves as part of the evaluation panel. “These company representatives have, without exception, applauded the Company Project and the individual groups, stating that they have received valuable and practical insights from a group of knowledgeable and enthusiastic final year business students,” Prof du Plessis concluded. Not all MBA qualifications are created equal. The MBA qualification of the NWU Business School offers critical thinking, thought leadership and a unique experience that few other business schools in the world can offer. To best describe our MBA, the word ‘superior’ comes to mind, but we invite you to come and see for yourself.
At the NWU Business School, we strive to change the way our students think about business. We want our students to become managers/leaders in their own right.
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