Ning Li and her classmates have taken on the Copenhagen MBA’s final challenge, the MBA strategy project. Unlike last year’s class they rely on online meetings and virtual connection for team collaboration.
While I was keeping busy with case studies for Strategic Management, studying for the Corporate Finance exam and getting ready for the final Advisory Board meeting, the MBA Integrated Strategy Project (ISP) – the program’s final challenge – slowly approached. Even now, four weeks after the ISP groups and cases have been announced, I still remember the nervousness and excitement I felt. I had heard many stories about this challenge and had been wondering for a long time what the ISP would bring for me. It feels like we have been in preparation mode for the past seven months and now the curtain is up. Here we are, on the stage, ready to perform and deliver the final act.
The ISP gives us the opportunity to apply the theories, concepts and models we have learned to a major strategic issue in a company. Officially, the ISP kicks off in April and ends early August. Throughout the entire journey, four MBA students work as a team and collaborate closely with a matched company. To enhance our preparation, the Copenhagen MBA administration moved the ISP initial announcement and kick-off event before the Easter break this year. We could tell that the administration had put lots of effort into the ISP preparation process. For starters, the staff had worked hard picking the participating companies. There were multinational companies and there were local start-ups. One MBA team was to work on a challenge within a biotech company, another was assigned to a museum, giving us the opportunity to practice and learn via real-world challenges. It was also apparent that the MBA program staff had spent lots of time allocating students to different teams, and matching these teams to companies. They had considered the companies’ requirement, project focus, and the students’ competencies.
Swapping the classroom for virtual learning
To make sure we were prepared and ready for the challenge, the ISP kick off had been planned right before the Easter break. Everyone was excited and looked forward to it. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 global pandemic started hitting Denmark in early March, and a lock-down was initiated while we were wrapping up other MBA courses. With this sudden change, all students, MBA program management, and professors, had to work from home. These uncertainties made everyone wonder how we would do the kick-off seminars, and how we would approach our ISP. Despite all the changes and uncertainties, the ISP kick-off started on time, moving from a physical classroom setting to a virtual online platform. We got the opportunity to learn and practice problem-solving frameworks, presented by an experienced external consultant. Many alumni were also invited to share their ISP experience and answer our questions. Although we started getting used to working from home after one week of being in lock-down, it was still a challenge for everyone to take a two-day long seminar online. I believe everyone did their best and has been supportive to each other.
The journey ahead
I knew nothing of my ISP one month ago. Gradually, in a few weeks, I started bonding with my teammates, making connections with our matched company, understanding the learning objectives, aligning with our two supervisors, learning frameworks to facilitate problem solving for the ISP, and soaking up tips from experienced alumni. I am getting ready for my ISP journey, together with my teammates. Although we are still under the cloud of COVID-19, I am looking forward to starting my ISP journey with my teammates and putting my best learning and practice into this final project: The MBA crown jewel.
Ning was born in Kaifeng, China, before moving to the US. She works in healthcare and chose CBS as part of an exploratory journey to broaden her business capabilities.