Former student lectures class

Former research associate Nour Arafat discusses her experience in product development with class.

The Economic Growth Institute launched its first course this semester teaching students the fundamentals of how to evaluate a company and strategize its growth opportunities.  Titled “Re-imagining companies”, the course is offered in partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurship.  During the semester, students are led through the process of evaluating a firm, exploring its market environment, interviewing its leaders, and presenting recommendations for business improvements.  Students are taught the same tools and skills that research associates develop when working with the Institute’s business assistance programs.

Taught by Institute Associate Director, Steve Wilson, and Director, Paula Sorrell, the class offers a new and more intense structure to the research associate experience, challenging students to think about the many dynamics that impact a business.  The course begins with a foundation of industry and market analysis topics, including market research and financial statement analysis.

U of M alumni of the Institute and clients are brought in to guest speak during some sessions.  Students are assigned an actual business that has worked with the Institute, learning about its history, organization, and business challenges.  Teams work through company financial statements and perform mock interviews with Institute staff standing in as company leaders.

Ultimately, the course provides an unmatched perspective on the complexity of business. The curriculum provides analytical tools for assessing a business, and a framework for identifying solutions and priorities. These are critical skills for new graduates in any business discipline. Response to the inaugural course has been enthusiastic, and there are plans to expand and further develop the course in the next year.