Lynn’s College of Business works to bridge real-world experience with academics

Students participate in annual innovation contest and work with local businesses
Lynn’s College of Business works to bridge real-world experience with academics

Published Apr. 11, 2013

Lynn University’s College of Business and Management provides ample opportunities for students to learn by doing real-world work through its annual Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge and class projects done in coordination with local businesses.

“The classroom work is important to the education of our students but experiential learning is equally important to the education of the next generation of business leaders,” Thomas Kruczek, dean of Lynn’s College of Business, said. “All the conversations I’ve had with businesses in our area and across the country have reinforced the idea that business schools must provide their students with as many opportunities to experience the real business world as possible.”

Howard Issacson Innovation Challenge

On Wednesday, April 17 at 6 p.m., in the Amarnick-Goldstein Concert Hall, five students will present ideas for a new business or product to a panel of judges made up of local business leaders and possible investors. First place winners take home $5,000; second place wins $1,500 and third place gets $500.  A mobile app that assists professional musicians, a software product that combines gaming with the stock markets and a unique shopping showcase are three of the new ideas being presented. 

These finalists were selected from an initial group of ideas submitted via a course developed specifically to help students fine-tune their ideas and participate in the innovation challenge, BUS 397. Ideas can also be submitted without taking the class, but the class helps them improve their thoughts. Judges review these submissions to determine what proposals make it to the semi-final round. Contestants then had to give a 20-minute presentation and leave 15 minutes for questions from the judges. From these presentations judges decided who made the final round on April 17. 

Kruczek focuses on teaching entrepreneurship skills such as research, good writing, presentation skills, critical thinking and ability to obtain a holistic view of how a business works because he feels business innovators and people who think like an entrepreneur will be best equipped for America’s future business culture.

“This event helps students think like an entrepreneur—consider an idea for a product or service, research that idea, consider it from a business perspective and then develop an investor pitch and make that pitch to a group of potential investors,” Kruczek said. “We focus a lot on the importance of research because too often in business plan competitions, students spend too much time drafting the plan and not enough time is spent researching the idea and talking with potential customers.”

Learning in Action projects

To help educate the next generation of business leaders in real-world business practices while at Lynn, the college launched the Lynn Learning in Action Projects as a major part of its educational offerings.

“This program brings real, actionable projects from the for-profit or not-for-profit world into our classes to provide students the opportunity to learn while helping meet the needs of local businesses and getting to know the business world,” Kruczek said. 

In a recent example, on Feb. 27, MBA students presented a case study to be graded by their professor, Jose Lopez, Ph.D., and a panel of Wealth Management professionals led by Jeremy Office, principal of Delray Beach-based Maclendon Wealth Management. 

The company wanted to figure out if social media would provide a measurable promotional platform, that would provide a good ROI for their services. They needed to figure out if it made sense to develop a social media aspect to their marketing, but they did not have the staff or time to commit to deep review of the opportunities and challenges. Office, who received his Ph.D. from Lynn (’11), reached out to Kruczek with their query to see if students could help them find answers—a perfect match for the Learning in Action program.

A class was divided into sub-groups that were assigned different marketing mediums such as: traditional print advertising, internet marketing, social media and events, among others. They were given six weeks to research, administer surveys and collect market data to build their case. The more compelling their case, the higher the grade they received in the course.

“I am delighted at the quality of the work from these students. It speaks to the education they are receiving and the gap that innovation is narrowing between experience and education,” Office was quoted as saying in a recent article in The Pineapple. “As a business owner, it is imperative that we engage the next generation of business leaders through direct involvement in these real world applications so they are better prepared for tomorrow.”

“Almost every organization always has important projects that they just can’t get to for a number of reasons. That’s where we can come in and work with the organization to complete that project for them. It’s a true win-win,” Kruczek said. “We complete their project and our students get the opportunity to work on efforts important to a real business—work they can add to their resume.”

New Business Center will foster experiential learning

Lynn University’s College of Business’s focus on experiential learning and innovation will be enhanced by its new home, the International Business Center. The building, planned to open in the spring of 2014, will provide a large number of innovative features and space specifically designed to promote the kind of learning the college champions.

“The notion of learning outside the classroom is particularly important to us and the new building will provide a place where we can expand our approaches to the learning process,” Kruczek said. “Everything from the building’s flexible, collaboration spaces, team rooms, Entrepreneurship Center, the Venture Lab and the Center for Career Preparation will help our students get ready to enter the business world.”