Tag: Michigan Tech MBA

Getting Rid of the Bad Stuff

Tech MBA students at Portage Health
Tech MBA students at Portage Health

MBA student Cynthia Hodur learned firsthand about getting rid of trans fats, those ubiquitous bad food particles. On a student team in Dana Johnson’s operations and quality management class, she researched and applied her knowledge to a local hospital project and got great results.

“Instead of reading about it, we actually did it in a real-world way that will help the community,” she says of her experience on behalf of Portage Health. The hospital was the first in the Upper Peninsula to go trans-fat free, with help from the Tech students.

Hodur appreciated the opportunity to tackle such a timely problem with her team’s two-pronged approach, especially since she works as a facilities and event coordinator at the Memorial Union.

“First, our research group focused on policy,” she says. “We looked at what had been done globally, with the United Nations, and then we researched further from there: federally, state, and at the organizational level.”

She says the American Heart Association’s trans-fat lawsuit with McDonald’s restaurants was important. In the suit, McDonald’s was supposed to change its oil, but it didn’t. She had inside knowledge there, having worked for the American Heart Association at the time.

“We were working with the schools then,” she says, “building on an existing program.”

That background information also helped her at Tech, where her second group–applying the information they’d gleaned–looked at recipes and various food products to get rid of the trans fats at Portage Health.

“We looked at everything from cookbooks to working with vendors to vending machines,” she says. “We found substitutes for cooking, like applesauce for oil, and for baking, where a substitute for shortening has been used successfully, for example.”

Along the way, she learned from her teammates.

“There was a variety of people, and we were paired by interests,” she says. “One of the women was a Six Sigma Greenbelt expert on flowcharts!” So, Hodur’s process-chart-producing expertise was accelerated.

And they weren’t all MBAs, said Johnson, an associate professor in the School of Business and Economics. They had graduate students from civil engineering, mechanical engineering and elsewhere. Focusing on the same goal, Johnson said, they would come at it from different angles.

Johnson also stressed the importance of “students working with a real, live project, instead of case studies, which become outdated very quickly.”

The project did indeed take a well-rounded approach to the problem. “The students looked at cost benefits, working with vendors Sysco and Reinhart, even Portage Point (the hospital’s long-term senior housing operation), and its food service customer relations,” she said.

They worked closely with Paul Skinner, director of Portage’s nutritional services, she said. He was important from a management perspective, and he was in charge of recipes.

“We looked at processes and procedures to make sure they are accurate,” Johnson said, noting that they even looked at the definition of “trans fat-free,” which can still include .49 grams of trans fats. Portage Health went below that measure, she said.

“The costs involved in going trans fat-free were not as significant as they thought,” she added.

She also sees potential for future work.

“We plan on helping them with their seating capacity at Portage Health,” she said. “We’ll be working with them as they expand their capacity. We are also using a green perspective to identify environmentally friendly dinnerware.”

They also plan on looking at the recycling in the hospital to make it more cost effective and efficient, Johnson said.

“We’ll be looking at Styrofoam,” she said, “how it can work within a recycling system.”

This marks the fourth year for the class tackling problems for Portage Health, and she’s also placed three interns into the organization.

Hodur truly enjoys the graduate school experience, including the Portage Health project, and her position at the Memorial Union. She has her sights set on a future marketing position.

“My husband and I moved here because we love the area,” she said. “Working and taking classes at Michigan Tech have been a nice bonus.”

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This article was published in Tech Today on February 12, 2010 and written by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor of University Marketing and Communications.

TV6 News also covered this article.


Michigan Tech MBA Program Ranks in Top 100 Worldwide

During its first year of existence, Michigan Tech’s Master of Business Administration program ranked in the top 100 MBA programs around the world for its emphasis on sustainability and social/environmental issues.

The Aspen Institute’s 2007-08 edition of “Beyond Grey Pinstripes,” released on October 11, ranks Michigan Tech’s new MBA program 94th on a list of Global Top 100 Schools. More than 600 business schools were invited to participate in the biennial survey and alternative ranking conducted by the Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education.

Christa Walck, dean of the School of Business and Economics, is thrilled with the results. “We are now on the map for sustainability in business education,” she said. “’Beyond Grey Pinstripes’ is the ranking for sustainability in business programs, and sustainability is a major strategic emphasis for Michigan Tech.

“This indicates that even a brand new and small program like ours can be recognized if we are doing the right things,” Walck went on to say. “To get this recognition from a well-recognized program like ‘Beyond Grey Pinstripes’ says we are on the right track.”

The dean said the ranking will help Michigan Tech attract faculty and students who are interested in sustainable business. “Businesses are becoming much more aware of how important it is for their processes and products to be sustainable ecologically as well as economically, so I have been encouraging School of Business and Economics faculty to incorporate sustainability concepts into their courses,” said Walck.

Provost Lesley Lovett-Doust noted, “This comes at a perfect time, when we have just announced our new Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative, with the theme this year of sustainability. We envision strong applicants for our three endowed chairs—the Robbins Chairs in sustainability—and the seven faculty positions. This recognition should help us attract some excellent candidates for these positions, including faculty in the area of sustainable business and economics of sustainability.”

A small but growing number of business schools are leading the trend to incorporate social and environmental issues into their core curricula, the Aspen Institute reported. Society and the environment are becoming significant issues on campus, but in many schools of business, they are still confined mostly to discussions of nonprofit management, social entrepreneurship and ethics, said Rich Leimsider, director of the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education.

In “Beyond Grey Pinstripes,” success is measured by how well prepared graduates are to guide a company through the complex relationship of business and society, the environment and the well-being of communities, countries and the world. “Our National Advisory Board members have commented on the value of our students’ knowledge and experience in sustainable business practice,” Walck noted.

In the latest Aspen Institute report, as in 2005-06, Stanford University ranked first. The University of Michigan ranked second, and York University in Canada was third.