Hult, a business school with campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai, thinks it has the answer.
The institution divides its students up into groups of five and each group is given a real problem faced by a leading multinational company. Their task is to find a solution under the guidance of a management consultant or senior executive in the relevant industry.
Companies that have given Hult students actual problems to solve include Verizon Communications, the largest cell phone provider in the US, printing and copy giant Xerox and the Financial Times, one of the world's leading newspapers.
Some of the problems would tax even the brainiest business mind. Verizon offered the students a real dilemma. The prices of its products, such as making a long-distance call or sending a megabyte of data, keep falling every year because of rapid technological progress.
To counter this, what new markets could the company enter that would bring large and long-term revenue growth?
Pfizer, the US pharmaceutical conglomerate, told Hult students of a very different problem. Its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor was the goose that laid the golden eggs - cooked the low-fat way through boiling. However, the patent for the drug, which accounts for a massive proportion of its revenues, expires in 2011.
Pfizer had worked out a broad solution - to expand its presence in high-growth emerging economies outside the West. Which countries offered the best opportunities? Students worked for six weeks on a commercially confidential solution.
Hult's theory is that other business schools concentrate too much on theory and not enough on practice. By setting its students real-life examples, known as Action Projects, it tackles this flaw.
Hult has even taken its Action Projects to the broader elite of students among other top business schools, launching an annual competition for them to find the best business solution to a problem faced by a leading charity.
This year, the chosen charity is Water.org, the non-profit co-founded by Hollywood star Matt Damon to provide clean water in the developing world. The chosen champions win $1 million from Hult, which the non-profit can use to implement their ideas. The exact problem will be revealed on March 5th.
A business school would not be a business school without a clever acronym and Hult is no exception. These case studies put the AP into its LEAP method: conventional Learning in the classroom, the valuable Experience of visits to companies and talks given by business leaders and finally, the Action Projects.
Hult's aim for its students to get practical business experience during their graduate program before they jump back into a job in the business world - to LEAP before they look.
About Hult International Business School
Hult International Business School (formerly known as the Arthur D. Little School of Management) is the first global business school with campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai. The School offers a range of business-focused programs including MBA, Master and Undergraduate degrees. Hult's one-year MBA program is ranked in the top 30 in the world by The Economist and amongst the top 100 by the Financial Times.
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