Action Learning Projects: A competitive edge with real-world experience

2.23.2015 Article, Careers, General, Healthcare, Leadership, School News

By Stephanie Skordas, School of Business

The Master of Arts in Management students spent the fall semester creating “shared value” for The Fresh Market. Founded in 1982, The Fresh Market is a specialty grocery retailer with 169 stores in 27 states across the U.S., and is headquartered in nearby Greensboro, N.C.

The focus on shared value challenged the MA students to create measurable business value by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their business. Dozens of teams took on the challenge, and in the end, four were invited to present their ideas to a panel made up of faculty and executives from The Fresh Market.

The team that took home first prize was composed of students enrolled in the joint MA/Physician Assistant program. As they invited the judges to experience heartfelt moments around food, they offered ideas such as heart-healthy food displays in the stores, special recipes in the existing e-newsletter, and partnering with the American Heart Association to offer heart-healthy cooking classes.

“They clearly put a ton of work, a lot of great energy into this,” said Chris Miller, vice president of strategy and marketing for The Fresh Market, and one of the judges. “They considered not just what a creative idea would be, but an idea that would drive our business through social impact, which is what we were after.”

Miller says that when Michelle Horton, director, experiential learning and leadership development at the School reached out to him about the partnership, he was immediately onboard.

“We saw four great presentations, but we also know there were at least 20 teams working on this over the past two months, so when I think about how many hours each of these young adults have dedicated to this work, it’s just phenomenal. As an organization we’re lucky to be able to benefit from it. Selfishly, we walk away with dozens of great ideas.”

Want to know more about the Action Learning Project? Check out the video.