MBA Student Research Helps Small Business

Pensacola – A team of College of Business graduate students won the Florida Student Project of the Year award in September at the 2016 America’s SBDC Conference for their business case study.

The team, made up of University of West Florida MBA graduate students Stelios Peterson, Gerry Goldstein, Michael Newsom, and Laura Jansen and faculty advisor Dr. Blaine Lawlor defended a case study looking at Best Price Digital Lens LLC of Pensacola owned by Dr. Gene Terrezza, who is a Florida SBDC at UWF client.

The company wanted to expand its current optical lens manufacturing facility. Terrezza was specifically looking for research that measured his current manufacturing facility throughput and compared it to total output capability and how many optical lenses he could produce if the facility were maximizing output.

“(The case study) is critical as it allows students to apply knowledge,” Lawlor said.  “This is where the richness in learning becomes apparent.”

The MBA team provided an in-depth analysis explaining how to achieve Terrezza’s goals. They used tools from the following classes: Strategic Management and Policy Formulation, taught by Lawlor, and Operations Management, taught by Dr. June Wei.

“In this project, Dr. Terrezza came to the class to hear the students when they were preparing a presentation on this project,” Lawlor said. “He was very engaged and seemed thrilled with the results that he saw.”

The team defended a case study looking at Best Price Digital Lens LLC of Pensacola owned by Dr. Gene Terrezza.

Lawlor said the project benefited the students, company and University.

“Small businesses are able to obtain the latest information from MBA students who are excited to learn and apply,” Lawlor said. “I believe it is not only a benefit to the business, but it also strengthens the relationship between the University and the community.”

After the students finished the study, Lawlor suggested their paper be considered for publication, which required them to submit it to the North American Case Research Association. The paper was one of only 20 to be accepted, and the team traveled to Orlando last fall to defend the paper’s methodology for research, conclusions and recommendations.

“The competition is rigorous, and each team member had to be prepared and be extremely familiar with all aspects of the case,” Goldstein said.

Dr. Tim O’Keefe, dean of the UWF College of Business, said the case studies were a worthwhile endeavor for everyone involved.

“These consulting engagements provide innovative experiential learning for our students while extending the positive impact of our College of Business and our FSBDC on economic development in the Northwest Florida area,” O’Keefe said. “Businesses get solutions from a fresh perspective, and our students get immediate confirmation of the value of their educational endeavor. They actively apply what they are learning to add value to an organization.”