REED Center, MBA program form MBA Consulting Project

The University of Tennessee at Martin Regional Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (REED) Center, housing the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, is partnering with the UT Martin Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

This collaboration aims to empower local businesses in West Tennessee through the MBA Consulting Project.

The MBA Consulting Project offers an opportunity for MBA students to engage with businesses as external consultants. Under the guidance of experienced faculty and industry professionals, student teams work on capstone projects, collaborating directly with business owners to identify optimal strategies and practices for organizational growth.

The projects encompass a wide range of services, including SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), strategic planning, feasibility studies, market research, business plan development and sales and marketing strategies.

“The MBA Consulting Project is a unique opportunity for our students to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios, providing valuable solutions to local businesses,” said REED Center Director Landy Fuqua. “We are excited to bridge the gap between academia and practical business challenges through this initiative.”

Twelve MBA students, led by December 2023 MBA recipient Carolina Vela, completed two projects for the EyeCare Center of Martin.

The first group conducted a comprehensive analysis of micro- and macro-environmental factors affecting the center’s competitive strength.

The SWOT analysis formed the basis for strategic recommendations, including the development of an employee handbook to enhance communication and understanding between the EyeCare Center and its employees.

The second group focused on addressing challenges within the eye-care industry and boosting employee morale at the EyeCare Center. Their strategic initiatives, derived from a detailed SWOT analysis, emphasized practical and cost-effective measures to foster a positive work culture.

Dr. Danny Donaldson, co-owner of the EyeCare Center of Martin, is a participant in the program and commended the students for their thoroughness and extensive knowledge.

“For us, it was more than a project; it was looking for ways to be better,” he said. “The students gave advice that we can immediately implement and reap the benefits.”

The projects were overseen by three supervisors: Fuqua, Vela and management professor Dr. Sam Faught.

Vela, an international student from León, Mexico, played a crucial role as a graduate assistant in the MBA Consulting Project. With a background in international business, Vela brought a global perspective to the projects.

“I applied for the graduate assistant position with hopes to learn, improve and keep acquiring experience in the business field for the future,” she said.

The success of the MBA Consulting Project highlights UT Martin’s commitment to fostering practical business skills and supporting the growth of local enterprises.

The MBA program at UT Martin is nationally ranked, emphasizing practical skills and real-world application. With a commitment to excellence, the program prepares students to navigate the complexities of today’s business landscape.

Photo: Members of the UT Martin MBA Consulting Project include (front row, L-R) Elizabeth Lackey, Samantha Simbeck, Madison Mitchell, Aleya Brent, Dr. Danny Donaldson, Anthony Vandusen, Dillon French, Landy Fuqua, (back row, L-R) Dr. Sam Faught Carolina Vela, Lee McBunch, Lucas Istre, Preston Canady and John Culumovic. Not pictured are Parker Kendall and Allie Wheat.

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