Earlier this year, a steady stream of business leaders gave up a few hours at the office -- and personal time in the evenings -- to talk with students enrolled in the first round of new courses addressing entrepreneurship and e-commerce at the Fisher College of Business.
The courses were designed last fall to provide students with the unique skill sets needed for today's rapidly evolving Internet-based economy.
"We have long offered courses providing skills in systems design, marketing and logistics and other elements that have a role in today's e-commerce economy," says Michelle Jacobson, director of the graduate programs office at Fisher College. "Our goal in developing this new cluster was to bring together the technology and business principles that speak specifically to today's entrepreneurial e-commerce environment."
Fifty-five MBA students and a select set of doctoral students from industrial design, engineering, computer science and education took Curtis Haugtvedt's e-commerce marketing course. Haugtvedt is an associate professor of marketing and psychology with a background in social and consumer psychology.
Because e-commerce develops at a very fast pace, textbooks and cases do not capture the full range of issues, Haugtvedt says, so he drew on the expertise in the Columbus business community.
"I had no trouble finding speakers who could bring real-world experience to the classroom," he says. "No one that I asked to speak turned me down, and all did a terrific job in relating the challenges of e-business and helping to reinforce the view that Columbus has a strong and growing presence in e-business ventures."
Business leaders who spoke included Dan Stanek, RPAWorldwide.com; representatives from DrugEmporium.com; Wil Schroter, NGDA Interactive Advertising; Todd Ritterbusch of the Columbus Technology Leadership Council; Marty Gage, SonicRim.com; Beth Sibbring, CompuServe Commerce; Mark Spencer, SubmitOrder.com; Internet attorney Robert Ellis; and Jonathan York, fourthchannel.com.
"A central message brought by all the speakers is that they need good people," Haugtvedt says.
"By coming into the classroom, the business community can see what the students are doing," says Sharon Alvarez, a visiting assistant professor who taught an undergraduate entrepreneurship class in the fall and a graduate course this spring. "It gives the students a valuable opportunity to network."
Ora Smith, president of the Science and Technology Campus Corp. at The Ohio State University, and George Foster, founder of Foster Technology Corp., were among those speaking in Alvarez's entrepreneurship class. Members of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce judged her students' business plans.
Steve Buser, professor of finance, called on venture capitalists to speak with students in his class, "The Market for Private Equity." Among his presenters was Peter Cohen, managing partner of Ramius Capital of New York, who spoke about the strategies and pitfalls for private equity deals.
Other new courses this spring included one taught by Oded Shenkar, professor of management and human resources and the Ford Motor Co. Designated Chair in Global Business, on the use of e-commerce to help small firms globalize operations. In another, Waleed Muhanna, associate professor of accounting and MIS, provided an understanding of the opportunities, potential threats and important business issues in e-commerce and emerging technologies environments.
The school expects to offer these courses again in the coming academic year. Currently enrolled graduate students, particularly those pursuing master's degrees in business administration, will have priority in enrollment. Nonbusiness majors may register with instructor permission when space is available.
For more information, contact the Fisher College of Business Graduate Programs Office, (614) 292-8511, and ask for Jacobson or Katherine Rath, assistant director for MBA programs.
Information provided by Anna Rzewnicki, media relations coordinator for development and external affairs at the Fisher College of Business.