“We have a responsibility to create the kind of world we want,” says Martin Schroeter, senior vice president of global markets at IBM. “We are not going to get 100% of the benefit of helping educate the next generation of business leaders from hiring them, but we are going to live in and operate our business in that world.”
Schroeter, BBA ’86, is one of a half-dozen executives donating their time to the next generation of leaders at the Fox School. They are partnering with faculty and staff to create an innovative experience for students that will make a difference in their lives, the business world and society.
Last semester, two executives volunteered to deliver live case studies to Fox students. John Panichella is president and CEO of Solenis, a chemical firm specializing in paper and petroleum treatments. Kevin Ruth, BBA ’82, is a former United Healthcare executive. Panichella presented a live case study to the full-time MBA program during an orientation at the beginning of the Fall semester. Panichella and Ruth presented to an online MBA class later in the semester. Schroeter and several others will do the same this spring with the online MBA course.
“I like this idea of creating MBAs that have experience with a real-world issue they might see in the industry,” Panichella says. “It makes them so much more valuable to me as a job candidate if they have some real-world experience.”
Live case studies empower students to
- Analyze problems akin to those industry decision-makers confront.
- Use creative problem-solving skills to develop their own solutions.
- Create a professional presentation to be judged at the conclusion of the competition.
For each case, the executives work with faculty to create live projects from conception to delivery. The end product includes
- A presentation and Q&A session with the cohort working on the problem.
- Support for research developed during the project.
- Student presentations judged by business leaders.
“For me, at this stage in my career, leadership is helping to develop that next generation,” Schroeter says. “The job satisfaction in leadership positions comes from helping people reach their full potential.”
While the Fox School’s Strategic Plan was still in its formative phases, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations has contributed to two goals that have since become key components of the plan: community engagement and innovative education.
Dean Ron Anderson says the development team, led by Assistant Dean James Hansen, has been diligently identifying opportunities to enhance our educational programs by bringing more and more successful alumni and prominent friends of the school into the classroom.
“By establishing strong relationships with our alumni and corporate partners, we are positioning the next generation of academics and support staff to continue creating opportunities for our students for years to come,” says Anderson.
Ruth said he approached the capstone with the objective of making it mirror his own corporate experience.
“They got as close to a real-life experience of what it is like to present to a CEO as you can get,” Ruth says. “There is real satisfaction in humbly helping someone. I just enjoy it.”
He said there is a balance between pointing out to students that they were generating a lot of background that they did not need and encouraging them to explore their ideas. Even if it is something he has already considered and dismissed, Ruth likes to hear an idea out just in case there is something to it he missed.
“For a place like IBM, we see this problem every day: We need to build a workforce that is resilient and has this life-long learning mentality,” Schroeter says. “The only way we are going to be around in 100 years is if we can create this aptitude. For these students, they need to know that when they graduate, it is not the end of learning, it is the beginning. Everything they learned has a half-life shorter than their time at Temple.”
Schroeter is one of three executives presenting cases to online MBA classes during the spring semester. He says he believes the most important aspect of educating tomorrow’s professionals is teaching them the tools to be life-long learners because, in the business world, skills become obsolete in six months.
“The gift of experience and expertise is of tremendous value to us,” says Anderson. “What these industry leaders are doing is taking the myth out of the stories our students hear about the professional world and making those stories into classwork that is empirical. They are equipping our students for the Herculean task of running a business or driving an industry forward.”