Victor Mullins, associate dean of the undergraduate program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, stays connected with Smith students – while they are undergraduates and after they have earned a degree and successfully completed the four-year Smith journey. Dean Mullins recently asked Rohan Bajaj '17 to discuss how being a part of the Smith journey helped him. Rohan graduated in December 2017 with a finance degree. He's looking forward to joining Capital One as a financial analyst.
Innovo Scholars Consulting
Students in the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith of Business Innovo Scholars Consulting Program are helping the university implement a groundbreaking diversity initiative.
University of Maryland undergraduates put their innovation and problem-solving skills to the service of their fellow classmates. Jamie Grossarth, Ananth Shrivatsan, Sylviane Alexion, and Isaac Adeeku presented their proposal for improving the application process to the university's education abroad programs to members of the University Cabinet as their final project for the fall 2016 Innovo Scholars Consulting program on Dec. 16, 2016.
Many universities face academic and administrative business processes that are inefficient and ineffective, yet seemingly immune to improvement. Despite significant investments of human, capital, and IT resources, there can be little resulting payback.
New technologies and employer expectations are pressuring traditional colleges to innovate instruction. Despite predictions of higher education disruption, “smart and agile institutions will respond and even thrive alongside new competitors in this changing environment,” says Sandra Loughlin, Smith School’s director of learning and innovative instruction. “The key is to provide appropriate faculty and program support.”
A Silicon Valley startup called the Minerva Project has put traditional colleges and universities on notice. Minerva students live together in rental housing and engage in experiential learning, but they don’t go to lectures or take final exams. “Higher education doesn’t work well anymore,” the system’s founder says. However, an initiative at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business suggests that established institutions can adapt and similarly innovate.
Smith student Philip Peker ’18 writes about the Innovo Scholars Consulting program for undergraduates at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Education is an ever-changing art that is grounded in theory, research and experimentation. Institutionally, it has gone through hundreds of evolutions in order to better equip the professor to better serve the student.
The Innovo program is framed by the FEARLESS consulting model, which teaches students how to solve complex problems and manage the dynamics of client-focused engagements. Throughout the program, students receive professional coaching from practicing talent managers and management consultants, with an emphasis on developing skills required to succeed in professional careers.
The program currently has two practicums which focus on transforming Smith School courses and programs and innovating university business process.
In the Innovo: Smith practicum, students partner with Smith School faculty and administrators to identify the strengths and opportunities of current courses and programs, prioritize issues, and apply the research on learning and engagement to recommend improvements. When proposing recommendations, Innovos consider human capital, organizational, and technological issues to ensure the proposed solutions are feasible. Design thinking and agile development methods drive course and program innovation. Innovos typically work alone or in pairs on their project and must enroll in BMGT 498L: Transform Learning.
In the first four weeks of the semester, students identify the current state of the course or program and develop root cause hypotheses for this state. In the following six weeks, students design, distribute, and interpret a series of research tools, include surveys, focus groups, benchmarking and interviews. After concluding this research, students analyze the information and develop a well researched account of the strengths, challenges, and opportunities currently present in the current environment. After establishing a firm understanding of the current state and opportunities, students develop and rank 3-5 recommendations to mitigate the challenges and leverage the opportunities. These recommendations are presented to the client in a final presentation. Students working on course-specific projects will spend the final portion of the project developing one to two of the recommendations they provided their client.
Past projects include individual course innovations, programs like Smith Start and Smith Live Cases, and school-wide issues like academic integrity and required team projects.
Consulting engagements are guided by the Smith School's Office of Transformational Learning.
The Innovo: Smith program is open to Smith School majors and minors.
Innovo: Business Processes
In the Innovo: Business Processes practicum, students partner with university administrators to understand and map a business process that affects students, identify opportunities for process innovation, and recommend solutions. When proposing solutions, Innovos assess the potential application for software to augment the streamlined process. Project teams are typically 5-9 students and students must enroll in BMGT 398L: Innovating University Business Processes.
The one-semester engagement is broken into four phases: Frame, Explore, Analyze, and Recommend. In the framing phase, Innovos work with the client to understand the challenges with the current process and scope the boundaries of the engagement. In the exploration phase, students conduct field research with stakeholders (e.g., students, administrators, advisors, managers) and apply business process visualization tools to create and verify an as-is process landscape. In the analysis phase, Innovos identify opportunities to streamline the current process and assess the potential for software to augment it. At the end of the semester, students present recommendations for process innovation to the client, along with mock-ups illustrating the application of software to the reengineered process.
Past projects include the processes by which students change their major, apply to study abroad, matriculate from community college into the University, and change personal identifiers in University databases.
Consulting engagements are guided by the Office of University Process Innovation in the university's Division of Information Technology and the Office of Transformational Learning in the Smith School.
The Innovo: Business Processes program is open to all undergraduates at the University of Maryland.
Applications will open mid-spring.
Innovo Scholars in the News
- Smith Students Help University Implement Diversity Initiative, Dec. 20, 2017
- Innovo Consulting Scholars Present to UMD Cabinet, Dec. 16, 2016
- Students Help Shape Classroom Instruction, Smith Business Magazine, Spring 2016
- Smith School Shakes Up Higher Ed's Model, Smith News, February 2016
- Innovo Scholars Program Helps Transform Learning at Smith, Smith News, December 2015