Marriott Alumni Magazine

Winter 2021

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Page 18 of 35

"When students think about a problem over and over, they get to a point where they actually have real insight." —james oldroyd The concept behind the course is straightforward: student groups com- plete studies for various clients—from local businesses to household-name companies—and deliver strategic recommendations for client dilem- mas. Oldroyd explains that these are real projects from actual clients who approach him with a variety of problems for inclusion in the course. "The students collect data, meet weekly with the clients, and do a presentation for those clients by the end of the semester," he adds. What's more, the course is so focused on that single goal—providing quality deliverables to clients—that any busywork is eliminated. "The class is 100 percent focused on value creation," Oldroyd says. "There are Elementary, My Dear Watson Analyzing problems and offering stra- tegic solutions are the main takeaways from the course. In many of hIs fIctItIous adventures, Sherlock Holmes chides his partner, Dr. Watson, by saying, "You see, but you do not observe." With its emphasis on teaching students to discover solu- tions to seemingly impossible prob- lems, BYU Marriott's course Strategy 421: Strategy Implementation is one that Arthur Conan Doyle's charac- ter would have approved of. Ana- lyzing problems and deducing the best course of action are the main takeaways from the strategy major's capstone course, says James Oldroyd, associate professor of strategy in the Department of Management. "When students think about a problem over and over, they get to a point where they actually have real insight. That's a fun place to be, when they have an insight that they can share with a client that has potential to change business," Oldroyd says. no assignments that aren't directly related to clients." To give his students hands-on experience with their projects, Old- royd takes a hands-off approach. Stu- dents handle client meetings entirely on their own, which teaches them to manage interactions and decision- making responsibilities professionally and independently. Students utilize everything from client data to their own independent studies to analyze the client's situation and offer direc- tion on issues such as growth, market entry, product expansion, and opti- mization problems. The course also prepares students for these projects with supplementary work. "Dr. Oldroyd did a fantastic job creating a curriculum to go along with the projects," says John Baads- gaard, a current BYU Marriott student majoring in strategic management. "I walked away feeling like I had learned so much more than I would have if I had just completed the project." By the end of each semester, every stu- dent team compiles an innovative and well-researched recommendation, often impressing clients à la Sherlock Holmes. "There is nothing better than see- ing a client's eyes light up when they hear your analysis and understand the insights you've found," Baads- gaard says. "It's great to feel informed about a new industry and to be able to answer their questions as well. Feeling like you've done real, meaningful work to contribute to a growing business is exciting. I've continued to follow the company I helped. There is nothing better than seeing them use some of the ideas we recommended." —ClARIssA McInTIRe 17 winter 2021

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