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ANN ARBOR—It's an annual rite of spring for first-year MBA students at the University of Michigan's Ross School—devoting seven weeks to tackling real-world business challenges around the globe.
Starting today, the 450 students in the Master of Business Administration program will fan out to work in 24 countries for 81 companies as part of the business school's Multidisciplinary Action Projects. The MAPs are a core requirement of the Ross MBA degree and one of the most intensive action-based learning programs of its kind.
The students are assigned to companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Sustainable Harvest to strategize on everything from new product launches to digital banking. Roughly half of the projects are international.
"We believe that learning by doing is instrumental to preparing students for the business challenges they will face in their careers," said Alison Davis-Blake, Ross School dean.
"Our MBA students benefit from working side-by-side with executives and faculty to use what they've learned in the classroom to develop creative, cost-effective solutions to pressing business problems," she said. "The real-world experience they gain gives them a head start in both the job market and their careers."
The MAP program launched in 1992 and its teams have completed more than 1,700 projects in 78 countries for more than 800 organizations.
Recent projects include helping Domino's Pizza reduce delivery times, recommending improved inventory procedures for Belcorp, and working with Delphi Automotive PLC to boost its budget development process.
Industry leading companies and organizations from various fields such as consumer goods, health care, technology, finance, nonprofit and manufacturing sectors submit projects. Sponsor companies this year touch several corners of the globe including Beijing, Brazil, Michigan, New York, Seattle, Zambia, and for the first time in the program's history, Mongolia.
"MAP stretches and challenges students," said Valerie Suslow, senior associate dean for MBA programs at Ross. "It provides them with a potent learning experience that incorporates diverse group dynamics, cultural awareness, and self-leadership—all while staying on task to provide actionable recommendations for companies and organizations."
This year's projects include developing market entry strategies in Central America and the Caribbean; developing digital banking services in India; and launching a new pharmaceutical product in Europe.