March 23, 2020
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When Temple University made the decision to go completely to online learning due to COVID-19, little changed for students in the Fox School’s Online MBA program. That’s because these students had already been attending classes online. 

What did change, however, was the client and live consulting project students would be working on in their capstone class with Fox Management Consulting (FMC).

FMC’s original client, a major health system, needed to focus on the pandemic and was unable to participate as planned. 

As a result, FMC regrouped and designed a timely, business-relevant project that takes into account what students have already learned and helps them shape a plan that could have practical, real-time and future applications for several industries affected by the pandemic. 

“By understanding the magnitude of what is happening globally with COVID-19, we were in position to be able to curate this learning experience,” says Nicole Naumoff, assistant professor, Department of Strategic Management. 

The OMBA capstone is designed to provide students with an experiential learning opportunity that combines a live project experience with academic requirements for completion of an MBA degree. 

Naumoff, lead faculty for the class, and a select group of experienced business executives will guide students through a six-week course that focuses on industries affected by the pandemic: airlines, cruise lines, hotels/hospitality, professional sports leagues, live entertainment and nonprofits that depend on events for revenue. 

The industries were selected because the current protocol designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 has a direct impact on their core business operations. Each team will develop strategic options and a scenario-based business case, including a recovery plan and financials, for future consideration by industry experts.

“I believe we have some of the strongest students around,” Naumoff says. “Our OMBA students come from all over the globe and have a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. This is a six-week opportunity to perhaps come up with some viable solutions that could inform future business strategy.”

Through research and assessment of past emergencies and crises, the teams will examine previous strategies for recovery, missteps and best practices. They will also assess underlying industry dynamics to try to predict whether COVID-19 disruption will lead to structural changes requiring new strategies and business models—or simply stress the existing systems. The teams will build a strategy that an industry-specific corporation could use not only to survive the COVID-19-related disruption but also turn that disruption into an advantage. 

The clients for this project will be drawn from the FMC’s network of advisors and past clients as well as faculty from Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) and the Fox School’s Department of Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management.

FMC intends to offer the results to the business community at large as a way of contributing to the post-COVID-19 economic recovery effort. Toward this end, FMC will host a webinar series on resilience and innovation in the face of disruption as well as white papers based on the results of the capstone.

“FMC is in a position to do this type of project because we have been structured to provide relevant and experiential learning as part of the students’ final capstone experience,” Naumoff says.

“What’s most important is that these students need to feel that what they are studying is relevant,” she adds. “It’s the timeliness and interest in this particular event that actually showcases and demonstrates the relevance for business education.”

Projects like these are in line with the Fox School’s mission to serve the broader business and social community.

Naumoff believes this experience will have value for years to come.

“We know this is an event that students are not going to ever forget. We hope that their work on this project will guide them as they move into leadership positions while helping to make their experience with Fox something that they are proud of, something that actually contributed to their career and their professional development.”

To learn more about the Fox School’s commitment to educational innovation and community engagement, visit the Strategic Plan 2025 website.

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COVID-19FMCFox Management ConsultingOMBAOnline MBARisk Insurance and Healthcare ManagementSTHMStrategic Management