For most full-time MBA students, December marks a pivotal moment – the completion of their first semester. This rite of passage comes with anticipation for some time off and the holidays but first students must conquer final exams.
You won’t find the average textbook exam being issued by Patrick Noonan, associate dean for Management Practice initiatives. To test students’ knowledge of the skills and tools offered in their first semester of Management Practice, Noonan devised what is called the Day One Challenge. The full-day event begins early in the morning with students meeting in what’s called the “launch room.” Here, they are assigned teams and briefed on the challenge.
They are no longer considered students but employees being greeted on their first day of post-MBA employment. Their new employers then task them with an ambiguous and multifaceted business problem. This year’s challenge involved a company wanting to invest in drones used for agricultural needs outside of the U.S.
The “new hires” were asked to analyze the market, identifying concerns, and finding the most profitable solution. Expectations were for the hires to possess the skills required to hit a home run out of the gate in order to make a lasting impression on day one.
In a 30 minute span of time, the teams are briefed with the case and provided minimal but sufficient background information. Noonan then leaves them with his final instructions, his mantra throughout MP, “Go figure it out.”
Selected faculty, staff, and alumni serve as judges for the day. In this way the challenge is operated much like an internal case competition. Students have four hours to further analyze the problem, research, identify a solution, and build a comprehensive presentation.
Goizueta’s Day One Challenge exemplifies the type of hands-on, experiential learning that prepares students to tackle the toughest business problems. Read more about Management Practice, here.