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Denver MBA students broke bread with representatives from major corporations on March 3 at a working breakfast that officially kicked off the Corporate Challenge.

The third of four challenges in Daniels’ Denver MBA program, the Corporate Challenge has students working as consultants on real business issues for 10 Host Partner organizations: Charles Schwab, Pacific Life Insurance, Zayo Group, Terumo BCT, Delta Dental of Colorado, The Madison Group, Enterprise Holdings, Oracle Corporation, Ball Corporation and HOSTING.

Following a welcome from Daniels Dean Brent Chrite, the students—who are divided into teams for the challenge—began their initial in-person meetings with their Corporate Partners, which enabled them to get additional background on the companies, a better understanding of the scope of their projects for the companies and the context necessary to develop their project plans.

“The students had done pre-work to prepare for the launch event, but the working sessions enabled them to get the information they needed to hit the ground running on the first day of class,” said Dan Baack, director of the Denver MBA.

Students will be working on projects for the Corporate Host Partners that include customer service, strategic marketing and finance, among other issues. Throughout the course of the challenge, students will meet weekly with their Host Partners in some capacity—via phone, Skype or face to face when feasible. Additionally, they’ll present weekly updates and progress reports on their projects in their class with Lowell Miller, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Management.

“Our Corporate Partners provide a real-time environment for our students to be road-testing and practicing what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Baack. “Their role in our students’ education is invaluable. They’re giving our students feedback about the relevance and importance of concepts they’re learning, and showing our students how that maps into an applied project or experience.

“The Corporate Challenge offers our students opportunities to learn agile project management and how to be advanced consultants,” continued Baack. “The challenge ramps students up so that they can demonstrate market connectivity as well as professional development in initial interviews after graduation or later on in their careers.”