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M.B.A. students share expertise with local business

Jun 8, 2020
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KOKOMO, Ind. – A class grade only affects the student who earned it.

But when the work done to earn that grade impacts the success of a local business, that’s even more motivating than earning an A.

Before classes moved to remote instruction because of Covid-19, IU Kokomo Master of Business Administration students Emily Harrison and Owen O’Dell provided their expertise in a consulting project for the Kokomo Country Club (KCC). They offered ideas for revamping the club’s marketing plan to reach new audiences.

It’s gratifying knowing they are making a difference for an area business, Harrison said.

“It makes it more real than just a simulation or on an assignment. This is really like an internship, because you’re doing real-life business activities and working with others in a professional setting.”

At the end of the semester, Harrison and O’Dell provided a plan to Cameshia Johnson and the board, detailing the steps they’ve taken, recommendations moving forward, and how to implement and evaluate the success of their plan.

“You don’t want to let the client down, because they’re counting on you,” said Harrison, from Thorntown. “I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned in class to real life. This is an experience I can take with me as I graduate. I feel confident I did these things to help this company, which is a better way to show what I can do than just performance on a test.”

“This wraps up the whole M.B.A. program, and uses all the skills we’ve learned throughout the program,” O’Dell said.

They met with Johnson, KCC general manager, and the club’s board early in the semester to discuss the needs and direction they should take to make more people aware that the club had opened its dining room and other facilities to non-members. 

“We’re doing research to see what the club needs, the wants and needs of the surrounding community, and who the target market is, along with the best way to reach it,” said O’Dell, from Kokomo. “Our main goal is to bring in people, especially younger people, to add new customers to their base.”

Johnson appreciates their expertise and said both sides are learning from each other.

“The students are getting real experience with us, which will make them stand out from other candidates when they look for jobs,” she said. “While they do that, they are giving me information that will help me do my job better. I’m eager to learn from them.”

She is especially excited about a survey they created and administered to students and people on campus, because they are the age 22 to 32 group she wants to attract.

“They opened the door to get the truth of what we need to do,” she said. “We can come up with all kinds of events and think they are fun, but if it isn’t what people want, there’s no point in doing it.”

Harrison has appreciated the chance to work closely with Johnson for the project, because her  career aspiration is to own and manage an event center. Being able to get insight from someone in the profession is invaluable, she said.

“This is a taste of what I might want to do in my future,” she said. “Getting these connections is good for me, and a good look at what I want to do.”

O’Dell plans to continue working for his family’s construction and rental business, which he’s worked for since he was 14, and eventually to move west to open a property management company.

“I had the construction experience, and now I have the business knowledge necessary to succeed,” he said. “This project has helped me learn how to present myself in a business setting. You can practice it all you want in class, but it makes a difference when it’s real.”

Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.

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