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11-month program comprises four 10-week themes, a dynamic studio environment and three field-based trips.
Ideal for individuals who seek to advance their career but need to balance the demands of work and family.
Built for recent graduates and young professionals, this program emphasizes business fundamentals, technical knowledge and career development.
MASTERMINDS BLOG: BENTLEY'S GRAD STUDENTS TELL IT LIKE IT IS
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As someone once said a long time ago, all good things must come to an end. And so the BMBA class of 2015 landed back in the United States last week after our third and final field-based experience, ready to finish our Environments theme and move on to Leadership.
Karla wrote a great recap of our trip, but I would just like to highlight our experiences working with entrepreneurs from the Alexandra (Alex) township as a part of the program created for us by Dr. Tashmia Ismail at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). It was this that really allowed us to practice what we learned in Innovation, Value and Environments themes in a practical setting.
Our group worked with a furniture maker named Elias Ndlovu. During our first visit to Alex, Elias showed us his workspace as he reupholstered a couch. Elias conducts business in the courtyard outside of his home, shared by four or five other small houses. It is cramped, and accessible only through narrow alleys. For larger pieces of furniture, such as the couch Elias was working on when we first met him, the piece had to be carried over the rooftops. This had the potential to damage the furniture. Given that Elias uses an air compressor to power his staple gun, his window of working time is limited by what his neighbors are willing to tolerate.
Hearkening back to the Innovation theme, we dug deep to understand Elias’s needs and goals before trying to come up with suggestions for him to improve his business. After all, there is little point in giving somebody what you think they want, when it is in fact of no use. Elias’s obvious constraint was space: He would love to have more in order to work on more projects for longer periods. But in asking further questions, we also realized that, despite his business savvy, Elias was charging a price that did not adequately cover his costs of materials and labor. A fairer price, we reasoned, could lead to more money in Elias’s pocket, thereby allowing him to not only fulfill his familial obligations but save money for a larger workspace.
This brings us to what we learned in the Value theme, where we broke down Elias’s costs to help show him how he could more effectively price his work. And then, based on what Elias told us, and the culture in Alex, we devised some ideas for Elias to market his business and expand his customer base.
One of the most rewarding aspect of this was seeing Elias understand what we were conveying, offering his own input, and becoming enthusiastic about the possibilities for his business. He is very good at what he does — in fact, he built a headboard for us in about an hour — and we sincerely hope that our suggestions can help him achieve his business goals.
The poverty of Alex living cheek-by-jowl with the wealth of Sandton, the part of Johannesburg our group stayed in, was striking, but it was heartening to see the economic activity taking place in all of the townships we visited. More than half the world lives under the so-called poverty line, so it is invaluable to understand the needs and desires of these emerging markets in order to be effective managers. Working with Elias and the educators at GIBS are experiences that we will never forget, and truly the highlight of the BMBA program.
Austin, Athens and Johannesburg. Three vastly different parts of the world united by the basic human desires to create, achieve and make a better future. It has been said many times on this blog by all of us, but these trips have helped our class truly put theory into practice. As our Social Context professor Joel Deichmann, who accompanied us to South Africa, is so fond of saying, “Travel is the best education a little money can buy.”
A combination of business, creativity and critical thinking skills, allowing students to examine challenges from multiple perspectives.
Countless opportunities for you to put your classroom experience to work in a real setting, providing a competitive edge in the job market.
An unmatched suite of seven technology labs gives you access to the hardware and software being used in industry today.
A dedicated team prepares students for the job market with one-on-one advising, seminars and access to top employers.