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New Integrated Learning Academy Offers Insights into C-Suite
Integrated Learning Fall 22

The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has been helping students put their in-classroom learning into practice for many years. Katz offers multiple programs and opportunities that connect students to the work they will be doing in the real world. New for Fall 2022, the Integrated Learning Academy (ILA) took hands-on learning to C-suite level heights.

In its first semester, the ILA course students assisted Pitt-affiliated biotech start-up heny Inc., a new company working at the intersection of web3, life science, and digital health. The heny app applies blockchain technology to enable individuals to track the use of their biosamples, learn about their contribution to science, and be contacted if necessary.

The ILA course built up to a live case study, where the first half of the semester prepared MBA students to work with the company. Through heny’s app, the user is notified if medical research uncovers a disease diagnosis or suggests new treatments that could improve or save their lives.

Tom Davis, clinical assistant professor of Business Administration, said: “We are excited to have our students learn from heny given its unique and challenging work. Their introduction to blockchain, biobanking, marketplaces, and patient rights through heny has been invaluable.”

Executive Expertise and Insights

The first half of the course brought C-suite-level executives into the classroom to help students build a strong foundation. Davis led the course with the assistance of Executive-in-Residence Barrie Athol. Athol has extensive global experience in developing and executing transformational strategies and driving business performance improvements. Athol has previously worked with a startup accelerator, so he is familiar with the entrepreneurship and innovation required to launch a new business. Davis repeatedly emphasizes the value of learning directly from those who have worked at a senior level in business.

“These executives are invaluable to running the course,” Davis said, adding, “Barrie is able to bring us that real-world perspective.”

Student Arvind Duhan (MBA and MS in Management Information Systems ’23) said the course provided an opportunity “to speak with many executives, industry leaders, and CEOs, enhancing my ability to think horizontally about business problems.”

He added: “Executives in this course have been especially helpful in building industry know-how and evaluating problems in a comprehensive way. Maintaining constant interaction with senior executives and CEOs during this course helped me realize how to communicate effectively and build mutually rewarding relationships at all levels.”

Pittsburgh and the Life Sciences Industry

When planning the course, the Integrated Learning team wanted to prepare students to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate contemporary business issues in a specific industry or sector. The ILA’s decision to work with heny in 2022 provided a focus on the life sciences industry, an industry in which Pittsburgh is ranked among the nation’s top 15 markets. The company’s leadership team has connections to Pitt and UPMC plus the Katz Life Sciences Advisory Council, a group looking to facilitate a robust understanding of the breadth of business knowledge essential for leading a successful venture in this industry.

Pitt Business students find work in various industries, including the life sciences, engineering, technology, and manufacturing. Duhan said, “This course has helped me better understand opportunities and constraints in the life sciences industry. The life sciences industry innovates at a fast pace due to the convergence of technology and lower regulations.”

Fall 2023 Registration and Other Opportunities

Registration for the ILA course is open to second-year MBA and MS students and will fulfill an experience-based elective credit. The course design deliberately trains the “generalist” who understands how core business disciplines such as accounting, finance, information systems, marketing, operations, and strategy interact. Registration for the Fall 2023 course will begin in late March.

Integrated learning stems from mixing traditional in-classroom learning and out-of-classroom practice. The Center for Integrated Learning at Katz, established in 2022, breaks opportunities into three categories: integrated curriculum, experiential curriculum, and beyond-the-classroom experiences. Other integrated learning opportunities at Katz include:

  • Digital Bridge Project with Catalyst Connection – This government-funded project will connect students with small- and medium-sized organizations looking to adopt new technologies. Students will provide technical, strategic, and market consulting to agriculture, construction, energy, health care, manufacturing, mining, and transportation businesses.
  • Consulting Field Project – This course teaches management consulting as a problem-solving framework, allowing students to apply the analytical tools and concepts they have learned to real-world problems faced by local, national, and global clients.
  • Six Sigma: Theory and Practice – Students in this course are grouped in teams and work under the mentorship of a Six Sigma Black Belt on an industry client field project to apply the Six Sigma approach for process improvement.
  • Global Research Practicum – A research-oriented course with a study abroad component, in which students engage current international business issues affecting the global marketplace.
  • Practicum in Portfolio Management & Security Analysis – Students manage a live investment portfolio, exposing them to real-world valuation estimation and portfolio management.
  • Katz Super Analytics Challenge – An annual competition internal to Pitt in which students harness the power of data analytics to positively address critical social issues.
  • Many more to choose from. Click here to learn more!