Every year, the students in Goizueta Business School’s One-Year MBA program participate in the Goizueta IMPACT course over the summer. IMPACT is Goizueta’s signature approach to experiential learning in which students spend six weeks working with an organization to solve a business problem. The entire class works to solve the same challenge. It’s an academic competition: Which team will recommend the most effective solution and give the stakeholders the clarity and confidence to take action?

IMPACT projects allow students to experience the full cycle of executive problem solving with a real client.

Donna Peters, adjunct lecturer

“They face a real-time business challenge. Students build skills in problem solving, executive communications, and teamwork. All of these are required for C-level effectiveness,” explains Donna Peters, adjunct lecturer for IMPACT.  

Real-World Experience

This year, the One-Year MBA students worked on a challenge from Reynolds Consumer Products (RCP). The company has sponsored multiple projects for Goizueta students over the years. Reynolds manufactures plastic wraps, aluminum foils, and other single-use plastic products. The company has been facing challenges due to increasing environmental-related regulations and shifting consumer preferences towards more eco-friendly products.

Students worked to develop a sustainable solution for a traditionally non-recyclable, single-use product line.

The IMPACT course is a unique, challenging learning experience for students. It presents students with a question that does not come with multiple-choice responses or a yes-or-no answer. In fact, students first must figure out exactly what the question is before they can start trying to solve it.

The IMPACT curriculum gives our students a chance, in this relatively safe environment, to experience the real-world challenges of problem solving.

Lynne Segall

“They start with what problem are we trying to solve, and then work through how to resolve the issues. They must determine what information is needed. Then they figure out how to do the analysis,” explains Lynne Segall, associate dean of management practice initiatives and associate professor in the practice of Organization & Management.

Real-World Challenges

In many MBA courses, faculty use case studies and business scenarios to apply theories. The cases include the relevant data and exhibits to use in their problem-solving. However, in the IMPACT course, students apply these learnings to real-world business challenges. They must determine which analyses to conduct and what information they need in order to do so. As a result, students become familiar with navigating unpredictable terrain in their problem-solving processes. This practice prepares them for their future jobs, career pivots, or increased responsibilities.

This is really all about giving our students a bridge from theory to practice. We want our students to hit the ground running, and IMPACT is all about giving them that running start.

Lynne Segall

Real-World Impact

Evan Birns 24MBA, a senior associate at Insight Sourcing Group, admits that the most challenging aspect of the project was the vagueness of where to begin. “This class placed an emphasis on the structure of the problem-solving process. They identified aspects that I had already been doing in my career but not as organized or in-depth. I will take many learnings from this class back to my work,” he says.

Evan Birns 24MBA, Emma Qian 24MBA, Rachel Murray 24MBA, Taylor Spann 24MBA, JiaWei Zhang 24MBA, and David Molinares 24MBA

However, the most exciting part of the summer project for Birns and his teammates—after months of extensive research—was Reynolds’s reception to the group’s idea. The company was impressed with two student groups in particular, for proposing ideas the company had not thought of yet. Reynolds hopes to take these “realistic and actionable” ideas and implement them in the near future.

“Goizueta has been an excellent partner. Reynolds has done several of these projects with Goizueta. We have been impressed with the organization of the program, the quality of the presentations, and the engagement of the students,” shares Christopher Evans, vice president of operations, Tableware BU, for Reynolds Consumer Products. “We learn and grow as an organization by engaging with young people from varied backgrounds. They bring experience and fantastic ideas to the table. As such, the impact goes beyond the specific presentation recommendations.”

About Goizueta IMPACT

Goizueta IMPACT provides an opportunity for students to accelerate career readiness. They learn proven problem-solving principles, tools, and frameworks. Then, they apply this knowledge to real-life business situations. Client partners span a wide range of industries, and projects offered vary each year. Learn more about this invaluable experiential learning opportunity.

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Alexandra Shimalla
Alexandra Shimalla is a freelance higher education journalist.