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Capstone Course Immerses MBA Students into Business World

“Embracing innovation is the key to unlocking limitless potential, transforming challenges into opportunities, and leading businesses towards a successful future.”

This is one of the key takeaways for Ryan Stout (MBA ’23) from the Pittsburgh MBA capstone course, one of three options.

At the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, all MBA students—whether they are enrolled in a full-time, part-time, or joint degree program —engage in a capstone experience. With a new format introduced in 2022-23, the courses are offered in three formats: a Pittsburgh capstone, a travel capstone and a DICK’s Sporting Goods capstone.

The theme for the 2022-23 capstone courses was innovation. This experiental learning course is intentionally taken during an MBA Student’s final semester to complete the requirements for graduation. “Capstone courses give our students the opportunity to tie together what they have learned in their MBA core courses,” says Tom Davis, clinical assistant professor of business administration.

Pittsburgh Companies Open Doors for Students

UPMC Enterprises and the Sheetz Innovation Center gave students in the Pittsburgh capstone course an up-close look at innovations in the healthcare and retail sectors.

The 38 MBA students in this capstone program took the course on an immersive weekend. Students completed assignments on their own before the weekend, then spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday touring companies, attending panel discussions, working on their individual projects, and delivering presentations.  

In addition to the company tours, the students gained insights from panel discussions with:

  • Chad FitzGerald, vice president, strategic partnerships & public affairs at EOS Energy
  • Devlin Robinson, Pennsylvania state senator
  • Barrie Athol, Katz executive in residence and member of the Pitt Business Board of Visitors
  • Jim Kelly, Katz executive in residence and retired founder and CEO of multiple startups

“The weekend format made it easy to fit into my busy schedule as a full-time accountant, mother, and wife,” says Latasha Cain (MBA ’23). “The site visits were also a great opportunity to see the concepts of innovation applied to real-life business decisions. As a result, this will ultimately prepare me for the next level of my career.”

Alumni Help Make Travel Capstone Successful

Thanks to the powerful network of Pitt Business alumni, the 50 students in the travel capstone course had access to a wide range of organizations and business leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, during the week of January 9, 2023.

The following alumni played an important role in this capstone trip:

  • Helen Eggers, Katz ’81, consumer risk management executive for Bank of America
  • Arno Czerveny, Katz ’05, head of investment banking, research, government & institutional banking, and sales technology at Wells Fargo
  • Rich Sedory, B.A. in Business and Political Science ‘83 and JD ‘86, general counsel, senior vice president at Wastequip LL

Before visiting the companies in Charlotte, students spent November and December engaging in lectures and classroom discussions on the topic of innovation.

In addition to touring Bank of America facilities and meeting their executives, the students also met with executives from the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, Grant Thornton, LLP, and Lowe’s Technology Hub. At Wastequip LLC, Sedory provided students not only a glimpse of innovation in manufacturing but also a discussion of sustainability and product management in the waste management industry. Students also met with the team president of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, Kristi Coleman, and had a behind-the-scenes tour of Bank of America Stadium.

DICK’s Sporting Goods Capstone

DICK’S offers Pitt’s part-time MBA online to their employees across the country. The capstone course for this group was on March 31 – April 2, 2023, and the 25 students met with representatives of the in-house investment fund, DSG Ventures, and the company’s technology group.

Like the Pittsburgh capstone, these students listened to panel discussions with:

  • Chad FitzGerald, vice president, strategic partnerships & public affairs at EOS Energy
  • Devlin Robinson, Pennsylvania state senator
  • Ron Herring, Katz executive in residence and retired senior vice president and president of MSA International
  • Jim Kelly, Katz executive in residence and retired founder and CEO of multiple startups

“The capstone was a concise yet detailed culmination of how to become a greater asset to my company,” says Drew Tochterman (MBA ’23), an assistant buyer for DICK’S. “With the learnings from this course, I am confident that I am better prepared to benefit my company and pursue my professional interests.”

Accelerate Your Career

At Pitt Business, we help students find the MBA program that is best tailored to their individual academic and career goals to provide the highest possible return on investment. Options include: 12-month accelerated format, 18-month full-time format, flexible part-time format, or dual/joint MBA degree options. Click here for more details or request more information.