The Sandermoen School of Business made an impact at the SBI 2016 Annual Conference this year, earning first place in the Project of the Year Graduate Business Plan category. Students Eda Wallace, Adam Shaen, Deline Comeau, Nicholas Weedon, and James Budd submitted a business plan project titled “St. Andrew’s College”, which was adapted from their Integration Course, the capstone project of the MBA program. It was announced that the Project had been awarded first place in its category in early February.

Through the Integration Project, students are required to analyze a company with the goal of producing a report that identifies areas in which the company can improve its performance. Reports are extensive, and as Adam Shaen described, can “push you out of your professional competence comfort zone.”

However, Shaen found that the real value in the Project was in “its real-world application, drawing upon knowledge gleaned from course learnings and an experiential background.”

Groupmate Nicholas Weedon had a similar experience, and a professional connection, as the project focused on his organization.

“Given that our group was examining my employer, I learned a great deal about the School, which I was unaware of before the project began” Weedon explained, “although this new information is extremely valuable, the often overlooked ability to work in a group was the most valuable takeaway.”

Students at the Sandermoen School of Business are primarily working professionals who are located across Canada. Through the extensive online environment offered by UFred, students were able to collaborate across time zones and professional and personal commitments seamlessly.

“I found the online learning for this project to be advantageous in scheduling meetings and communicating progress,” said Shaen, “at times, we would have group members attend meetings from their homes, vacation destinations, work, and coffee shops. This type of anywhere accessibility would simply not have been possible with a face-to-face meeting requirement.”

Weedon echoed this sentiment: “no matter where group members were, we could meet without having to ensure we had a pen and paper, were dressed appropriately, etc. It was extremely convenient to meet online, especially with the many other elements of life taking up our time.”

Sandermoen students are able to use vClassrooms hosted by Cisco WebEx in breakout sessions. This allows for group members to communicate and interact with the reports created in realtime.

Dr. Mona Engvig, the professor for the Integration Project course, finds that an online environment facilitates learning for motivated students in a very unique way.

“Since the courses take place online, we often see a much more diverse student population in online courses” Dr. Engvig said, “This diversity is helpful as it brings different perspectives to the analysis.”

Shaen attributes the success of the project to the contributions from professional and knowledgeable team members:

“The high caliber of students representative of this school was demonstrated in each course I participated in. I found this program and project to be a valuable experience both professionally and personally.”

This is the third year running that students from the Sandermoen School of Business have been recognized at the SBI Annual Conference. More information about the conference can be found here.