Sixteen students, 10 weeks and three valuable proposals
Denver MBA students Jack Gurr, Davis Kali, Memo Trevino and Cecilia Wolf didn’t know much about mining. Neither did marketing graduate students Anne Conway, Ali Lasday, Molly Smith and Ciara McCabe. Denver MBA students Brian Bickley, Patrick Gillespie, Shannon Jacobs and Tess Wasowicz didn’t know much about data storage either.
Yet, in the last 10 weeks, these students have become experts in mining and data storage in order to make valuable recommendations to senior leaders at Climax Molybdenum, a subsidiary of the mining company Freeport-McMoRan. Climax Molybdenum is the world’s leading molybdenum producer and supplier with operations throughout Colorado in Clear Creek, Grand, Lake and Summit counties.
The Denver MBA students working on the Corporate Challenge were asked to evaluate business possibilities that would yield a profit for the company, but also provide a positive impact on neighboring communities and create a sustainable, lasting legacy in Colorado. Both Denver MBA teams followed up on a project that the Colorado School of Mines launched, evaluating new business opportunities for the Henderson Mine. Teams provided clear recommendations for the site, offering financial, marketing, HR and community input for their decisions.
“The Corporate Challenge truly brings student learning to life in a real-world project,” said Bryce Kirchhausen, director of the Denver MBA program. “These experiences continue to be a highlight of the program, and we owe that benefit to the continued support from our corporate partners.”
This was the first year Daniels has worked with Climax on projects like this. In addition to the Corporate Challenge, Climax engaged with the Consumer Insights and Business Information Center (CiBiC).
CiBiC Co-director and Marketing Associate Professor Ali Besharat said this was one of the most challenging projects he’s ever led because he and the students needed to learn so much about the mining industry.
“This is so different from what we have done in the past,” Besharat said. “But, what a great learning opportunity for our students to figure out the B2B marketing viability of this project.”
The four marketing students worked 40 hours a week for nine weeks on the project, meeting weekly with Climax President Michael Kendrick (MBA 1991), General Manager-Climax Vicki Seppala and General Manager-Global Sales and Marketing for Climax Moly Chris Gnann. CiBiC researchers leveraged secondary and archival data to provide specific and actionable insights on industry trends about certain minerals. They also offered an in-depth competitive and customer market analysis for this client.
“The students and professors at DU delivered more than we ever expected and were delightful to work with,” said Kendrick. “Their flexibility, professionalism and willingness to embrace our company’s values and culture really impressed all of us. The excellent documentation provided by the students will allow us to utilize and build on their analyses both now and in the future.”
Jack Gurr, who was on one of the MBA teams, said he was so appreciative of Climax employees, Manager of Strategic Community Development Tara Hosick and Director-Business Affairs David Rivera, who were helpful and patient as the team got up to speed on the mining industry.
“This was a great opportunity to dip our toes into the consulting world and this class pushed us to recall information from nearly every class we have taken,” Gurr said. “Working with Climax was a great experience. Three of us were born and raised in Colorado and it made a big difference to work with a company that demonstrates how much they care about the Colorado community.”
Time will tell if Climax embarks on the ventures the Daniels students recommended, but either way, Daniels External Relations Director Kate Dillon said the impact of Climax’s engagement has been invaluable. In addition, she said, “the collaboration has exposed our students to career opportunities in an industry they might not have considered before that they will now because Climax was such a fantastic partner.”