MBA Students Take on Improving INTEC Engineering
One of the biggest business values around may be a C.T. Bauer College of Business class that gives working MBA students real-life consulting experience. The class offers companies the benefit of an in-depth analysis done by students working for a grade, instead of financial compensation. For students, the experience expands their view of workplace issues and provides a window into how different segments of business operate.
Some students choose projects they’re already familiar with, like the MBA candidate employed by the city of Houston who chose to analyze the city’s budget. In other instances, companies bring consulting proposals to Associate Dean and Associate Professor Latha Ramchand, who assigns them based on student interest. In past projects, students developed a business plan for a fledgling bio-diesel startup company, and worked with financial services giant Merrill Lynch, Ramchand says.
This summer, four students agreed to tackle a question posed by INTEC Engineering Partnership, LTD, an engineering and project management company that serves the international oil and gas industry with 500 employees and offices in Houston, London, Delft, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, Rio de Janeiro, Lagos and Mexico City. The company’s question: What makes a great place to work? And more importantly, what things could INTEC’s Houston office do in order to hit the mark and be recognized for its achievements?
Elizabeth P. McGlothlin (MBA ’07), Vinh Tran (’05, MBA ’07) and MBA candidates Jimmy Watson and Jonathan Braun each brought unique skills to the project, and initially had to work out how to divvy up tasks according to their strengths, says McGlothlin, an engineer with Boeing’s space shuttle program.
They began their work by researching “Best Place to Work” lists compiled annually by Fortune magazine, Houston Business Journal and state and national groups to assess which lists were most applicable for a company of the size and scope of INTEC. The students also looked at academic literature on the subject and then designed an employee survey to try and determine what INTEC employees thought about each of the measures in relation to their jobs.
Because of their own professional experience, Ramchand says, the students excelled at formulating questions that drove to the heart of issues such as communication and opportunities for professional advancement – two areas that were surveyed.
“Our students for the most part all have jobs,” she says. “They brought what they knew from work.”
An independent business consultant told Ramchand the students did a great job, easily worth $150,000 in the real world marketplace.
INTEC management took away specific ideas for continuing to strive for excellence.
And the students gained important knowledge that they can now take back into their own workplaces.
“Some of the recommendations I would make to my own company,” says McGlothlin. “Our recommendations will help them improve their relationships with their employees and to improve perceptions between INTEC and its employees, and the larger community.”
By Julie Bonnin
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.
About the Bauer College of Business
The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.