University at Buffalo School of Management

Buffalo Business - Autumn 2014

The magazine for alumni and friends of the UB School of Management

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B B Autumn 2014 A l u m n i I m p a c t In the School of Management's "Consulting Practices" course, second-year MBA students take the concepts they learned in previous classes and apply them to the business world, serving as consultants at organizations throughout Western New York. In small teams, under the guidance of their instructor Nick Everest, assistant professor of organiza- tion and human resources, the students work to solve a press- ing issue, manage all aspects of their projects and deliver a formal set of recommendations to company leaders. It's often through the school's expansive alumni network that professors are able to provide these real-world learning opportunities to their students. Everest says many of the con- sulting projects begin with references from alumni or current students, as was the case with Twin City Ambulance, a med- ical service provider for Niagara and Erie counties. The connection with Twin City was made in 2012, when then-CEO Tom Maxian, EMBA '13, met A.J. Nicodemi, MBA '12, a student in Everest's class. Nicodemi's group created a contribution model for business expansion opportunities and, since then, Twin City has hosted four additional groups, with plans for more this spring. "These are professional-level projects coming back to us that we're able to implement and use to great effect," says cur- rent CEO Bryan Brauner, EMBA '14. "I can't say enough good things about them. We will always have projects for as many students as Nick is willing to send us." Initiating a change For one project last year, Brauner tasked a team of four students with creating a performance management system to monitor and encourage employee development and formally connect compensation to performance. The students were Tiehui Chen, MBA '13; Lindsey Kovel, MBA '13; Manish Kulkarni, MBA '14; and Henry Nailor, BS/MBA '13, who served as the liaison between his group and Twin City. They started by interviewing every nonunion employee to determine what informal system might already exist and discover what the workers wanted in a formal program. The group also spoke with Brauner regularly and participated in several management meetings. "Professor Everest taught us that a big part of imple- menting a major change is involving the people impacted by the change process," Nailor recalls. The final product was a two-part system with behavior- based assessments to measure how an employee contributes to company culture and upholds its mission, and task-based assessments for which each employee sets three to five objec- tives tailored to his or her job function. Employees would meet with their supervisors at quarterly checkpoints and for a final review to discuss their performance and goals. Nailor's team provided an implementation plan, and Twin City Ambulance quickly adopted all of their recom- mendations. Brauner says the program was created in a frac- tion of the time it would have taken internally and remains in use today with slight modifications. "We started with very little, but with the education we obtained from the MBA program, we were able to build a valuable system that addressed the needs of our client," Nailor says. "It's empowering to produce a project that's actu- ally operating within an organization. That's when I realized that human resources consulting was something I could do for a living." A win for all For Nailor, now a business operations professional at IBM in Vermont, the course opened his eyes to another facet of human resources—and a potential career path. "The entire excitement of this class was tackling a real problem that's in need of a fast solution," Nailor says. "That's what I'm looking to do for a career—to solve problems and have a real impact on the organization." From Classroom Learning to Workplace Consulting Photo: Tom Wolf

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