From classroom to market: how Les Roches MBA students learn by doing

5 Sep 2019 | by Les Roches

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There are a million and one textbooks on business and management theory. But there’s no better way to learn than by doing.

Les Roches’ highly-regarded MBA program takes this adage to its ultimate conclusion, with students having the chance to undertake real-world Consultancy Projects with real-life companies.

And not just any companies either; but some of the biggest names in the hospitality business.

For the just-graduated 2019 MBA cohort, this included Irene Forte, Wellness Director at Rocco Forte Hotels and also a highly successful entrepreneur, having recently launched the Irene Forte Skincare range.

Bilal Hassan, Senior Lecturer and MBA Consultancy Project leader, takes up the story. “Rocco Forte Hotels have developed an innovative careers and training application, called Map My Future. Irene Forte has huge expertise in HR and training, and she was personally involved in creating the tools, processes and content for the application.

For our Consultancy Project, we were tasked with exploring the potential to commercialize Map My Future through the creation of a new start-up company.

 

Welcome to the real world

The students took to their task with relish, coming up with a series of fresh brand propositions for the application. They also devised a business plan, incorporating sales packages targeted at the b2b (business-to-business) and b2c (business-to-customer) markets. And they dissected the features and content of the application, in order to identify functionality that could be included within ‘standard’ and ‘premium’ subscription packages.

All businesses need capital, so another big element of the project was looking at the financial considerations – for example the likely capital requirements as well as potential partners and investors to approach.

Last but not least, the group identified some prospective corporate customers, and Bilal revealed that discussions are already progressing well with one of these (strictly confidential at this stage).

“The concept is brilliant, especially for the younger generations of workers who want to feel that their employers are engaging with them and giving them a chance to develop. And for the corporate subscribers it is an ideal way to stay in touch with their workforce, keep them informed and improve retention,” says Bilal.

“In addition, it’s also a career starter for newcomers to hospitality, by offering hands-on training in soft skills. This is an important selling point, since the nuances of human interactions are deeper-rooted in the hospitality industry in comparison with other sectors; and so hospitality professionals are expected to continuously stay attuned with their soft skills, which are paramount in building relationships between people.”

 

Now comes the exciting part

Remember that stuff about theorizing vs. doing?

Well the work of these MBA students is set to be put into ‘real world’ practice in January 2020.

That’s when the application will be commercialized externally under a new brand name that was made in Les Roches: Hatchify.

One or two of the MBA cohort who worked on the consultancy project are also hopeful of finding roles within the new startup business, which will be owned by Irene Forte alongside other family investors.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with the MBA students at Les Roches on the Hatchify project,” Irene Forte comments. “They were energetic, dynamic and full of great ideas. I am excited to use their final presentation and project to push Hatchify forward as a new business.”

Bilal adds, “As well as being very complimentary about our students’ work, Irene has also become a friend of the school. We were delighted to welcome her to campus as a guest speaker in July, and we hope this will be followed up with an entrepreneurial workshop later this year.”

 

·    Find out more about the MBA Consultancy Project from Bilal Hassan

Les Roches

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