TU MBA students develop 10-year business plan for Cherokee Heritage Center

TU MBA students develop 10-year business plan for Cherokee Heritage Center

Cherokee National Historical Society (CNHS) recently honored TU MBA students for their efforts in developing a 10-year business plan for Cherokee Heritage Center, the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. Team members Patric Holderfield, Bradi Hinch, Haley Lucero and Duncan Smith partnered with CNHS as part of their curriculum in the full-time MBA program.

The Collins College of Business revamped its full-time MBA program in 2014 with an emphasis on better equipping students with the project management and leadership skills employers seek. Along with fundamental business classes, students now participate in a six-hour capstone project course for the final semester of the 18-month program.

The updated MBA curriculum better fits the changing demographics of TU’s candidates — students coming straight out of undergraduate programs who need hands-on business experience. The full-time program emphasizes real-world experience and can be completed in three semesters.

Brian Walkup, assistant professor of finance, and Brice Collier, applied assistant professor of energy and finance, select the clients and serve as project mentors. Students are divided into teams that each take on a project for local companies and nonprofits. The teams spend an entire semester working on the client projects. They hold weekly board meetings with the faculty mentors and are expected to develop an agenda and corresponding action items to demonstrate progress on each project. They also meet weekly as a team in addition to communicating with the client.

The teams hone their presentation skills by preparing for and delivering periodic updates as requested by clients as well as a mid-semester update and a final report for their respective clients.

Collier explains that what the students experience in their final semester of the program is equivalent to about a year of experience on a job. “Our students get to interact directly with leaders of a company,” he said. “That’s something that might not happen for a long time in a traditional work setting.”

Cherokee Tribal Council Member Jack Baker, Tonia Weavel, Haley Lucero, Duncan Smith, Bradi Hinch, Patric Holderfield, Cherokee National Historical Society President Shane Jett and Professor Brice Collier

Clients like the Cherokee National Historical Society (CNHS) benefit from receiving services similar to those a consulting firm would offer, without a hefty financial investment. “We are so thankful for the opportunity to partner with the Collins College of Business and greatly appreciate the time and effort these students gave,” said Tonia Weavel, interim executive director for the Cherokee Heritage Center. “As a nonprofit organization, we were thrilled to receive quality services from the students that mirror that of a consulting firm and look forward to utilizing their plan to advance our organization for years to come.”

“The students like the fact that some or all of what they recommend could make a real difference for a company,” said Collier. “CNHS has a passion to keep its mission going and can greatly benefit by exploring and diversifying its revenue sources. Our students were able to present a viable business plan that can help CNHS accelerate its path to revitalization and aggressively pursue its mission.”

Along with the full-time MBA program, the Collins College of Business offers a part-time MBA, Master of Accountancy, Master of Science in Finance, an online Master of Energy Business and recently introduced a Master of Science in Business Analytics, which will begin in fall 2017.

For more information about TU’s graduate business programs, click here.