By: Amy Timmes
The Stillman School of Business’s new MBA program is well underway, and a unique collaboration with Stryker Corporation is providing a valuable differentiating feature. Through the program’s initial class, “The Launch Experience,” on Saturday, September 9, through Sunday, September 10, MBA candidates enjoyed a kick-off immersion experience that will represent the cornerstone to their entire graduate program. “The Launch Experience” weekend began with a Saturday meet-and-greet reception at McLoone’s Boathouse in West Orange, NJ, where new MBA students had an opportunity to connect with each other as well as with Stillman faculty, administrators and alumni. The evening concluded with an engaging presentation by Stillman alumnus Gabino Roche, Jr., CEO of Maag Studios, a web app-development and business-technology consulting firm. Mr. Roche spoke to the cohort about the importance of creating one’s own personal brand.
Early Sunday morning, the MBA candidates met on Seton Hall’s South Orange campus to begin their consideration of the MBA program’s 2017-18 “Spotlight Company,” Stryker Corporation. The use of a “Spotlight Company” is an important feature of Stillman’s new MBA program. Dr. Daniel Ladik, MBA Director and Associate Professor in the Department of Marketing, explains, “the company spotlight is a tool for the professors to use as a lens in their particular classes.” Ladik believes that, by focusing on one company across all core courses and business discipline areas (i.e., accounting, finance, information technology management, marketing and corporate social responsibility), Stillman students will be able to visualize, comprehend and connect with the dynamics and challenges of an actual business organization. Stillman’s faculty believes that connecting all core courses through the use of the same business organization will help students appreciate the critical interrelationship among the various business discipline areas; using concrete examples from a real company to illustrate business discipline concepts will also help Stillman faculty deliver on the School’s mission goal of “transforming concepts into business practice.”
A week before their immersive weekend experience, students had been given an assignment designed to focus them on Stryker’s product portfolio and strategic opportunities. Specifically, students were organized into teams and asked to work as a group to identify the two or three products or industries in which they would invest additional resources. To assist in the brainstorming and idea development process, each team was assigned either a faculty member or an alumnus executive to serve as a coach. With input from their coaches, the student teams worked to evaluate, strategize and prepare presentations about the Stryker case study. Teams delivered formal presentations, justifying their choices, to a small panel of external evaluators, including Stillman faculty, alumni and employers. The evaluators gave feedback and suggestions for improvement to teams and individual students.
First-year MBA candidate, Matthew Lucciola, considered the weekend launch to be helpful in both learning more about Stryker and honing important professional competencies. “We were broken into teams and given a ‘case’ that required discussion and incorporation of our teammates’ views to find a solution,” he said. “Each team collaborated on a presentation we made to an advisor and the other teams.”
Another first-year MBA student, Brenden Paternostro, described the experience as giving him, “more confidence inside the classroom to interact with others and to have my voice heard.”
Then, as a follow-up to the weekend experience, Stryker Corporation executives invited Stillman MBA students, faculty and administrators to visit their Mahwah, New Jersey, campus, on Thursday, September 14. There, Stillman students and faculty benefited from the unique opportunity to learn more about Stryker directly from its executives, and they had the chance to ask Stryker professionals about the company’s strategic direction and plans for the future. Students heard from professionals representing all of Stryker’s major product/industry segments as well as from Stryker Orthopaedics’ Group Controller, Neil Zieselman.
Aldo Sayegh (’00), Stillman alumnus and current Assistant Controller, Stryker Orthopaedics Group, who was responsible for coordinating his company’s alliance as Stillman’s inaugural spotlight company said, “ Stryker’s culture is special. We keep our customers and patients at the heart of everything we do. Here, we constantly challenge ourselves and each other to achieve more and this is what I learned at Stillman.”
The choice of Stryker Corporation as Stillman’s inaugural “Spotlight Company” was an easy one. Joyce Strawser, dean of the Stillman School notes, “We wanted to collaborate with an organization that was world-renowned, yet had significant operations in our local area. We feel that it is critical for students to be able to meet in person and learn directly from ‘spotlight company’ representatives. Most importantly, we wanted our ‘spotlight company’ to reflect the principled business leadership that we strive to develop in all of our Stillman students.”
Stryker is one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, offering an array of products and services in Orthopaedics, Medical and Surgical, and Neurotechnology and Spine. With headquarters in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Stryker has over 30,000 employees globally, with almost 1,500 employees working on the Mahwah, New Jersey, campus. In 2016, Stryker’s revenue passed the $10 billion mark, the result of 37 years of continued revenue growth. The company is meeting and beating analysts’ estimates, successfully raising capital for acquisitions and successfully managing its global product line portfolio. Fortune magazine ranked Stryker number 19 on its 2017 list of “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Stryker’s mission statement, “Together with our customers, we are driven to make healthcare better,” resonates with almost every demographic audience, especially MBA students who are studying and experiencing ways to make the business world a better place with their future contributions.
The Launch Experience, coupled with the Stryker visit, set the tone for a meaningful alliance between Stillman students and Stryker executives. “Participating in the Launch Experience before our site visit to Stryker helped us to absorb important information during Stryker’s presentation,” Lucciola commented. “It also encouraged us,” he added, “to have a better interaction with each employee we met.”
Alfred Ayoub, Director of Stillman’s Graduate Admissions, elaborated on the benefits of the entire experience. “The Launch Experience was a wonderful opportunity for MBA students to immediately network and leverage the power of peer learning. The course is an invaluable first chapter in a student’s graduate journey and has strengthened the overall Stillman MBA experience.”
In addition to experiencing Stryker in the classroom, Stillman Assistant Dean, Mark Schild, sees a future at Stryker for interested Stillman students, both undergraduates and MBA graduates. “Stryker has a ‘Finance and Accounting Rotational’ (FAR) program,” Schild explains. “It is designed specifically for highly talented individuals seeking to gain technical finance and accounting expertise and dynamic leadership experience early in their careers.” The FAR program is structured as three, one-year rotations, including geographic relocation, in which the employee’s development includes job shadows, plant visits, product showcases, formal training, and volunteer opportunities. “Stryker’s program goal is to develop future employees with systems and technical capabilities that will help them become valuable Stryker leaders,” said Schild.
MBA students and our entire Stillman community look forward to continuing this unique relationship with Stryker. Stryker executives will be visiting MBA core courses throughout the year to deliver content that will help students connect business theory with actual Stryker operations. In addition, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase Stryker in Stillman’s annual “Integrity and Professionalism Convocation,” which is scheduled for April 17, 2018.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 7th print edition.