Four online MBA student teams from all over the U.S. lead by Professor Shannon Threlked from the Kelley School’s Bloomington campus just returned to their homes after spending a weekend together in Tampa, Florida. Two Kelley faculty coaches, Sam Misar and John York, joined them at the Moffitt Cancer Center where they met the center’s business leaders including COO Jack Kolosky, who leads this project for the center.
Each of the four student teams was tasked with addressing a specific problem or evaluating a business opportunity for the center, and this weekend trip was the students’ chance to meet their clients in-person, tour the facility, and network with Moffitt’s leadership team. The students especially appreciated the opportunity to meet face-to-face and took the time to strengthen their relationships with classmates as well.
Partnerships between Kelley Faculty and Student Lead to Innovation
The stakeholders at the Moffitt Cancer Center were just as eager to meet the Kelleys because of the positive experience they had working with another group of Kelley Direct students in the previous year. Then-president of the Kelley Direct Healthcare Association and current faculty coach, John York, organized an independent study consulting course with the Moffitt Center in 2014 after half a dozen club members expressed interest. The Moffitt Center implemented one of the recommendations from those students and wanted to continue the relationship.
“This is the second year that we have worked with the team from Kelley Direct. This is a well-organized program where the students have an opportunity to propose solutions to complex issues that face our organization. Their work is on a par with some of the best consulting firms….perhaps better because there is more out of the box thinking!” – Jack Kolosky, COO of Moffitt
As more Kelley Direct students expressed interest in progressing in or switching to the healthcare industry, making this independent study course part of the online MBA curriculum as an elective made sense. Expanding the program and innovating through faculty-student partnerships has become a defining characteristic of Kelley Direct. Other recent examples of student-initiated innovation include the addition of an entrepreneurship immersion course in Indianapolis for students interested in startups and venture capital and a consulting pathway for students interested in making the switch to a consulting career.
Projects from Real Clients Motivate MBA Students to Learn Quickly
Before making the trip to Florida, the students studied the McKinsey consulting process and learned about the healthcare industry through live weekly lectures with marketing Professor Shannon Threlkeld, course readings, online discussions, and several guest lecturers. Phil Johnson, now retired Pharmacy Director at the Moffitt Cancer Center shared insights about the business side of oncology while Michael Newton (PharmD, BCOP) spoke to the students about the clinical side. Joseph “Joey” Paglinawan, Senior Consultant at EY and recent Kelley Direct alum also returned to speak about the tools a consultant uses for successful engagements. The students in this course also had the benefit of working with faculty coaches John York and Sam Misir, who have a combined 40 years of experience in the healthcare industry and signed up to support their fellow Kelleys for this course.
“This is a great real-world learning and teaching experience that allows us to use our graduate business education in the field. It also lets students learn and apply McKinsey consulting fundamentals to something we’re interested in.” – John York, CEO of Akita Medical and Kelley MBA student/faculty coach
The students formed teams at the start of the course and began researching their assigned problems knowing they were expected to present a recommendation to the Moffitt leadership team by the end of the term. MBA students greatly value this immersive course-style because putting some skin in the game raises the stakes, and forces them to learn quickly. Even though this means more effort and time dedicated to their education while managing work, family, and other aspects of life, many of the students view this and other immersive courses as the highlight of their Kelley Direct experience:
Hanting Feng, current Kelley Direct student
“For someone like me who is interested in consulting and healthcare but has limited experience in both, the Moffitt course was a perfect introduction. The course instructors made sure we gained the background knowledge to support our projects, and the best part is we immediately got to apply it to a real world situation. The faculty coaches were great mentors, making themselves available at all times, ensuring we had enough guidance to be successful but at the same time giving us the freedom to grow individually as team leaders. This has been an amazing learning experience for me in healthcare, consulting, and project management.”
Hanting graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012 with a BA in Biology and French, then lived in Bordeaux, France for 8 months while teaching English to primary school kids. Since May 2013 Feng has been living in Northern Virginia, and currently works as a Sales Rep at Noldus Information Technology. Hobbies include eating, eating soup, eating anything covered in chocolate, and the occasional long run.
Ryan Young, current student
“This experience is the apex of my time at Kelley. The nature of the work we are doing, consulting, requires a fully developed business skill set. The paradox is that none of the students in this course have developed that entire skill set through our coursework. Regardless of where we are in our education, we all have something to learn from the immersion offered by this course. It demands thinking at a strategic level, which is something that I’m just starting to be exposed to in equal measure in my military career as a captain. This confluence of education and real-world experience truly is transcendent in the value it delivers to the students and the organizations they work for.”
Captain Ryan Young is a pilot and flight commander in the US Air Force. He was pivotal in establishing the relationship between Indiana University and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL as president of the Kelley Direct Healthcare Association. After earning his degree from Kelley, Ryan plans to attend medical school and matriculate into the Air Force’s Pilot Physician Program.
Charlton Venci, current student
“As someone who has never worked in the healthcare sector, I enrolled in the Projects in Healthcare course with the Moffitt Cancer Center to gain direct experience in the industry. My project is in an area that I am not experienced in, however, my past roles in project management outside of healthcare provided valuable insight to my team and have allowed us to take a novel approach to our topic.
Not only have I gained healthcare experience, but I’ve also furthered my leadership and project management skills as I was selected as a leader for one of the project teams. As this is only my second quarter in the MBA program, I was somewhat hesitant about taking on the added responsibility, however, the class is structured such that the other leads create a great balance and support system. Additionally, the faculty coaches and professor have been great mentors to ensure that we are all successful.
Taking the risk to apply these concepts outside of the classroom and in industries that are new to me is a key reason why I selected the KD program over others. In a short time, I’ve been rewarded with valuable networking opportunities with Moffitt leadership, but more importantly, enhanced relationships with classmates that have fostered more intensive engagement than a normal class might and have already proven valuable in helping to navigate future courses.”
Charlton Venci is based in Columbus, OH and manages supply chain compliance and incident investigation for Ashland Inc, a multi-national specialty chemical manufacturer. His has managed teams and projects in sales, compliance and operations functions globally.