10/28/13 – This guest post is written by Dr. Susan Golicic, professor of Supply Chain Management in the College of Business. Susan teaches in the undergraduate program, as well as in the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program, where she also mentors student venture teams.
Each venture team in the GSSE program is paired with a faculty mentor to help them through the practicum process where the students begin to test their business models in the field. The mentor may provide support with business matters, country/cultural issues, team dynamics, personal concerns or whatever else the team members may face. Several of the program ventures deal with supply chain and distribution issues due to the lack of infrastructure in the countries in which they work. Therefore, I have had the opportunity to be a faculty mentor for venture teams for the past two years.
One team worked on trying to provide organic supplies (e.g., seed, fertilizer) for farmers in Guatemala to enable their farms to be more sustainable (read more about them here). The other distributes solar-powered lighting to rural homes with no electricity in Honduras (read more about them here). I helped both fine-tune plans for their summer practicum trips to research and test their business models. I then followed their progress through emails, blogs, reports and photos that described their experiences. During that time I played various roles: a sounding-board, a cheer-leader, a task-master. I have been extremely proud of my students for what they accomplished as a team and individually.
Working with these teams has been a rewarding experience for me – not only do I get to help them, but I also learn a great deal about teamwork, supply chain management in other countries, and various entrepreneurial business models in the process. I will continue to be a team mentor and hope to be able to travel with a team on their summer practicum at some point in the future. Not only do the students make a difference through their venture, but by helping them accomplish their venture and program goals, I feel I make a difference too!