When two great things are paired together, the end result is often even better. Fries are tastier with ketchup. Batman is stronger with Robin. And peanut butter is somehow even better with jelly. All this is to say, there is power in partnerships.
At Daniels, the notion that there’s power in partnerships is not just discussed over coffee and doughnuts, it’s also put into practice.
The College has established partnerships with local, national and international organizations so that students can get real-world experience before venturing out into that proverbial “real world.” And, just like any strong relationship, the benefits of this collaboration are not one-sided.
For participating organizations, working with Daniels students provides access to a wealth of intellectual capital. Students bring fresh, alternative perspectives to the companies they work with, and this outsider’s view helps uncover solutions to sticky business problems. Working closely with students also allows organizations to find and recruit new talent from a pool of educated and experienced professionals.
Kirk Roberts—a lecturer, corporate partner and alumnus who graduated from Daniels’ Executive MBA program in 2007—has seen from multiple lenses how partnerships at the College benefit everyone involved. Roberts is the senior vice president of strategic development at Bona, a global company with headquarters in Sweden that provides products for wood and other premium flooring surfaces. This past fall, he worked with students in the Denver MBA program on the Global Challenge—a cross-cultural, live consulting project during which students team up with international companies (like Bona) to solve a major business issue.
“[Working with these students] has been a win-win,” Roberts said. “The great thing about this [collaboration] is that the students not only gain an international perspective, but they get experience that translates to the real world.”
And for some students, these partnerships may also lead to their next job opportunity.
Partnerships for Professional Growth
Stephanie Ledford (PMBA 2018) was gainfully employed when she enrolled in the Professional MBA program at Daniels in 2016. So she wasn’t exactly looking for a new career when she starting working on a class project for Danone North America, a multinational food products company.
“My classmates and I had the opportunity to present a marketing plan to Danone’s Horizon Organic Milk team during a marketing class this past summer,” Ledford said. “After the presentation, which was well received by the Horizon team, I reached out to the VP and inquired about a job opportunity with Horizon’s parent company, Danone. She happily recommended me to the hiring manager and three weeks later I was offered the job.”
Ledford believes that working on the project for Danone helped her build connections and demonstrate her skills in a way that could not have been achieved otherwise. “This was an experience that would not have happened if I wasn’t enrolled in the [PMBA] program,” Ledford said.
Danone also worked with Daniels students through the College’s Consumer Insights and Business Innovation Center—also known as the CiBiC (pronounced SIH-bik).
“CiBiC brings together students and companies to use consumer insights to solve business problems and develop innovative solutions,” said CiBiC co-directors Melissa Archpru Akaka and Ali Besharat, both associate professors of marketing. “Our multifunctional lab space enables collecting group interview, survey and behavioral data—such as how humans think, feel and behave—in a controlled setting. This process allows students to gain important experience working on real research projects and provides valuable insights to companies to help make critical business decisions.”
CiBiC is a prime example of a strong partnership that positively impacts all stakeholders, especially Daniels students. Deborah Finestone (MS 2017), an alumna of Daniels’ MS Marketing program, was hired by Danone after performing research for the company in the CiBiC lab. Jessica Bouchard (MS 2018), another MS Marketing alumna, also benefited from working with the company.
“I had the opportunity to work with Danone through CiBiC, and it was a very beneficial experience as I have a direct interest in working for a company in the natural food space,” Bouchard said. “During my job search, I had multiple opportunities to discuss my experiences and role in CiBiC, and it has been a great talking point in interviews.”
Students have also worked in the CiBiC lab with companies such as FIG Advertising + Marketing, GPT Industries, Hyde Park Jewelers, Leprino and North Star HQ.
Partnerships for Social Good
Partnerships complement the Daniels experience, but they also have implications that extend beyond campus and benefit the wider community, especially when nonprofit organizations are involved.
As part of their capstone project, students in the part-time PMBA program work with nonprofit organizations to tackle complex business issues with high-impact, low-cost solutions. Before graduating in fall 2018, former PMBA student KC Chimote and classmates Tyler Herman, Brad Knudsen, Jordan Glist and Whitney Hornak worked with Colorado Health Network to improve the local nonprofit’s brand recognition following a merger.
“The capstone project was one of the highlights of the PMBA program,” Chimote said. “Business school prepares you for creating economic value within an organization, which is often critical to the company’s overall success. However, the capstone project taught me how business students can contribute at a higher level by partnering with nonprofits in our own communities to create social value to serve those in need.”
Partnerships for the Win
While it could be argued that combining two great things doesn’t always result in something better (looking at you, pineapple and pizza), there is no doubt that the power of Daniels is enhanced by its robust partnerships with outside organizations.
Kate Dillon, Daniels’ director of External Relations, summarized this idea well when she said, “Daniels recognizes the importance of having deep, meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with our industry partners. Students not only want to learn the necessary business content, but they want a practical perspective on how that information can be applied in the real world.” At the same time, these interactions provide an opportunity for Daniels’ corporate partners to showcase their employer brand to potential talent, highlight their expertise, as well as discover solutions to some of their most complex business challenges. “It really is a win-win,” Dillon said.