Meals on Wheels America CEO Ellie Hollander sent an email thanking six part-time MBA students at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business for their contributions to fight hunger.
“We were impressed with your quick grasp of our business, ability to synthesize a broad range of information in such a short amount of time, and efforts to immerse yourselves in our more-than-a-meal model and surface some innovative approaches to expanding our volunteer base,” Hollander wrote in her message.
As part of the part-time MBA program, the students worked as a team to complete a consulting project for their Creativity in Business class taught by professor Oliver Schlake. The group was tasked with addressing a problem that a real organization was facing.
Student Alan Brylawski, who is acquainted with Hollander, suggested that his team choose Meals on Wheels for its project. Other teams members included Mark Davis, Lauren Hayden, Christina Rickman, Renee Maton and Laura Scruggs.
Meals on Wheels is an international nonprofit organization that delivers meals to individuals who are unable to purchase or make their own meals.
During the research process, the team interviewed Hollander, and Brylawski volunteered with the organization. “I volunteered with Meals on Wheels because of the project,” Brylawski said. “I continued volunteering because I made a connection with the people I met.”
Through research, the team realized a demographic trend affecting the company: The demand for Meals on Wheels’ services are increasing but volunteers are aging. To tackle this problem, the team developed a volunteer growth strategy with solutions designed to increase youth participation in the program.
Brylawski later sent the team’s findings and recommendations to Hollander. After reviewing their project, Hollander invited Brylawski to present the project to her and the executive board.
During his meeting with the executive board, Brylawski learned that the issue the team had addressed in the project was one that the executive board was currently working to address. Moreover, one of their recommendations was a solution that the company had already been working on implementing.
“While I was presenting, I noticed members of the exec board smiling,” Brylawski said.
Brylawski and his team were honored by the interest and attention that Hollander and the executive board took in their project.
— Mamayaa Opoku, Smith School communications writer