by Elizabeth Stone
University of West Georgia students recently travelled to London to represent the Richards College of Business in the Hertfordshire MBA Showcase. The team of five UWG students, who partnered with the University of Hertfordshire in a semester long joint study, received the “Best Collaborative Project” award, with specific commendations on the practical application and viability for implementation of the project. Participation was conducted through the MBA elective management course titled “Production and Operations Management with Quantitative Applications.”
For the showcase, the students developed a project for IBM – Hurley regarding the future of air travel. The Hurley division of IBM is the largest software research and development site in Europe. The UWG team, including Kres Betsill, Jonathan Burke, Winniefred Nabawanda, Monique McBride and Nutayi Toyon, mostly worked with Hertfordshire students via video conferencing; however, the students did visit UWG in January to assist in personally researching and assessing the consumer perspective of air travel.
During the visit, the UWG and Hertfordshire team met with senior management for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Bettina Gardner, international affairs coordinator for the Atlanta Mayor’s office. During the meetings, the group discussed concerns of the traveling public in context of airlines, airports and supporting entities. Following the visit, the team continued gathering information through surveys and qualitative interviews.
Upon reviewing the results, the team developed a solution defined as EMEX – Empowered Experiences: A Seamless Journey. The focus of EMEX is to offer a “push” method of data to the consumers during their entire air travel experience, interconnecting the traveler with airport retail, baggage tracking, ground transportation and more.
On May 21, 2014, the UWG team travelled to London to connect with the Hertfordshire team before presenting to IBM on May 23. The group’s presentation not only received high marks from IBM, but was also noted as the best collaborative project presented in the last five years of the showcase.
Dr. Douglas Turner, associate dean and professor of management, led the elective management course and accompanied the team to London. “Given many previous years in the business world, I commend our MBA students for their focus, adaptability and professionalism,” he said. “This course took them through six months of online and group work, hospitality to the visiting Hertfordshire MBA students and networking with senior management at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. These five students worked hard to achieve an award-winning presentation at IBM in late May.”
The experience is one that students will carry with them for a lifetime. "I feel deeply honored to have been part of a team that addressed an innovative solution to solve some of the major problems facing air travel today to the IBM management at Hursley - Hampshire, the largest R & D software center in Europe," said Winniefred.
Jonathan also said that this particular course was one of the most fulfilling he has completed. “The project and trip to London are lifelong experiences that I will take with me into the next phase of life,” he said.
Others also partnered with University of Hertfordshire teams to create projects for the showcase as well: Texas Tech University, Vancouver Island University and the leading tea manufacturer and exporter in Sri Lanka. UWG was again invited to participate in the showcase in 2015.
For more information on these and other programs, please visit www.westga.edu/business.