Real-world business project a fitting capstone to Lakehead students’ degree
A graduating business class taught by Dr. Herman van den Berg at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus recently conducted a business study for Orser Technical Services of Orillia. Orser General Manager Ray Gammon and President Tony Telford (seated l – r) attended the final class in April to receive the students’ final reports and presentations.
May 15, 2014 – Orillia, ON
The final class for a group of Lakehead business students last month was not your average end-of-term get-together. For the ten students who were completing their business degrees, they spent their last class making strategic business recommendations to the senior management team of Orser Technical Services, based in Orillia.
The capstone assignment was part two of a fourth-year Strategy Management course taught by associate professor of business, Dr. Herman van den Berg.
“This was the students’ opportunity to apply all that they had studied over the course of the program,” explained van den Berg. Students were required to analyze an existing organization and to submit a detailed report of their findings, analyses, and recommendations for the future. “I think it’s important to do this in a real world situation, rather than through a case study,” added van den Berg.
The students agreed.
“This was the most hands-on, practical experience we’ve had,” said student Andrew Palubiskie. “What made it interesting was the fact that it was a smaller business with restricted resources. Our textbook learning was primarily focused on larger corporations.”
“Being able to talk to a CEO was great,” added Brandon MacDonald. “It made it personal and we found out that these business leaders are just like us.”
Orser Technical Services president Tony Telford, along with general manager Ray Gammon, quickly agreed to be part of the project when approached by van den Berg. “We support the University and understand its value in our community,” said Telford. “As a member of the community, we are committed to helping build the synergy between the school and the business community – this is how we pay back.”
Both Telford and Gammon were impressed with the students’ presentations and recommendations.
“I was surprised at the parallel visions between the students and ourselves,” said Telford. “They were very observant and intuitive; some of their recommendations were things we’ve also discussed and have considered implementing. “We definitely have takeaways from each group,” added Gammon.
For student Cindy Karikari, the project brought her studies into focus. “It showed us what was really important in this degree and what is most useful to apply; and a great preparation for the real world.”
Lindsay Lewis said it was interesting to find that their textbook analysis had so many similarities to a real management team. “We were really on the same page,” she said. “It’s cool to see that our academic backgrounds are in line with where this company was at in terms of challenges and solutions.”
The value that the project brought to the students was what was most exciting to Telford. “The student reports, with their fresh perspectives, will be beneficial to our business, but we hope that what the students gain from the exercise will surpass what we get. Ultimately, it’s a win-win situation.” “That’s the intention,” added van den Berg.
The students will graduate with their Honours Bachelor of Commerce (HBComm), or in the case of transfer students, a Bachelor of Administration (BAdmin) degree at the University’s convocation ceremony this June.
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