Business students learn the value of location, location, location
It’s a favorite line of business people everywhere. It’s location, location, location that matters.
Brandman University has a new take on that, one that combines location with data to grow business intelligence and ultimately success. Brandman’s MBA program now offers the choice of a data analysis emphasis that features deeper understanding of how geography and data intersect.
The four courses using a geographic information system (GIS) are a collaboration among Professor Sheila Steinberg from the School of Arts and Sciences, Associate Dean Monica Shukla-Belmontes from the School of Business and Professional Studies, Lindsay Yossef, an instructional designer with Brandman’s Center for Instructional Innovation and Esri, an international leader in the “science of where.”
Brandman MBA students will learn to think spatially by looking at case studies from different industries, said Shukla-Belmontes. “There are so many different areas: marketing to determine the best place to use digital or print advertising; retail, where do I want to put the next Starbucks or movie theater; healthcare, where are people in need of our services.”
The courses are designed to build on each other. They begin with a foundation course that helps students think in geographic terms. Another course helps them analyze the data using GIS tools, and then a pair of courses will have students work through an unstructured problem, using data to find a solution and ultimately to make a presentation that will inspire action.
The unstructured problem approach came at the suggestion of Esri leaders, said Shukla-Belmontes. “We had conversations with them throughout the process of designing the emphasis to see which activities would work.”
“We know our MBA students aren’t necessarily going to be data analysts. They’re more likely to be a manager who will need to understand the data. They need to understand what the people crunching the numbers are saying.”
While Shukla-Belmontes kept the overall goal of the program in mind, Steinberg provided the knowledge of GIS and had the connections with Esri to forge the working relationship. Yossef, whose undergraduate work at UCI included a GIS component, was able to look at it from the student perspective and emphasize how these courses would help someone as they worked to complete their MBA capstone project.
“These are the courses I wish I would have had as an undergraduate,” said Yossef, whose GIS coursework emphasized learning the tools but not how to apply it. “I had to formulate that on my own. This program creates the bridge. You use Esri tools to enhance your experience, not just practice.”
The courses aren’t limited to creating maps, often the first thing people think of when they hear Esri. There are also survey-taking and storytelling tools that help students gather data and then present it.
“We want them to know the best way to convey information,” said Shukla-Belmontes. The program is designed to be included in an MBA degree or as a stand-alone certificate for those choosing another emphasis or returning post-MBA to add additional skills and managerial competence.
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