This weekend Anderson’s Global Access Program (GAP), the real-world international consulting project that takes Fully Employed MBA students beyond the classroom and into a multinational company, welcomes the 2015 participating companies to campus. It’s the first time that the assigned FEMBA teams will meet the executives at the helm of their projects.
The 11-month GAP experience and requirements constitute the FEMBA master’s thesis. Students’ bids on a given company’s project are competitive and, under the directorship of Professor Bob Foster (’65), five-person FEMBA teams are placed in the situations best matching — and requiring — their experience and skill sets. Like the 256 students making up the teams, companies must meet rigorous standards as well, and Foster says he travels overseas a good 37 days out of the year interviewing and recruiting them on site.
The 51 companies participating in 2015 are located in Finland, Sweden, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil, with three new organizations from Thailand, Poland and South Africa. Also new this year is the inclusion of two nonprofits, the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa and Australia’s Black Dog Institute, where some 50 Ph.D.s and medical doctors are focused on managing and treating mood disorders. Black Dog invited a GAP team to explore how the organization can commercialize its market-ready eMental health products and determine growth opportunities for these products, while continuing their efforts to reduce the burden mental health issues place on society.
All projects carry a technology focus. Non-tech companies and not-for-profits qualify based on how they plan to leverage technology for strategic communication, say, or to implement their programs.
This weekend’s launch is designed to bring students together with company executives for consecutive days to establish objectives and study topics as well as to socialize with their teammates and GAP project leads. The research travel component of GAP starts August 9 and ends October 9, and each team must write an investment-quality business plan to present to experienced venture capitalists by the end of the program in December.
GAP is in its 18th year, and 3,032 Anderson students have graduated from the program. To date, 642 companies from 20 countries have participated.