Colorado State University’s College of Business Honors-Course Students Impress Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Executives for the Fifth Consecutive Year

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Semester-long project involves pulling apart complex problem statement put forth by the Aerospace and Defense industry leader. Students walk away with invaluable experience and a new outlook on the real-world project team with the help of management and strategy consulting firm, RAS & Associates.

It was a nerve-racking but exhilarating presentation.

Students of the Honors Business Strategy capstone class at Colorado State University’s (CSU) College of Business are now in their final week of courses. However, two weeks ago the students were standing in-front of five Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC) executives, two of their esteemed professors, and a partner of Denver-based strategy and management consulting firm, RAS & Associates, presenting their findings to a case put forth by the Aerospace and Defense industry leader. Finals week may be a breeze compared to the weeks, even months, prior to this intense real-world simulation.

For the fifth consecutive year, teams of five to six students taught by Bill Shuster, professor of the honors capstone course at CSU, spent the morning at the Littleton Colorado LMSSC campus presenting their recommendations and supporting data for a LMSSC-built problem statement. The problem statement, which students examined over the entire spring semester, addressed certain make-or-buy considerations LMSSC identified as a recent topic of interest. After presenting two recommendations and leading panel members through supporting analytics, each team proved to be quick on their feet during a wrap-up question and answer session. “They were able to frame a complex problem, find viable, data-driven recommendations and then link those recommendations back to LMSSC’s strategic direction” said Shuster, “The students once again exceeded expectations."

Michelle Lichtenfels, a Senior CSU College of Business Marketing Major, was among the first five students to present. “There was such anticipation as well as a feeling of risk associated with presenting in such an executive environment. However, we felt our recommendations were backed heavily with evidence of success." Lichtenfels also went on to say, “It was a nerve-racking but exhilarating presentation." Lichtenfels will be joining the marketing team at Dish Network Corporation in July 2013.

Each year LMSSC, Bill Shuster, and RAS & Associates have worked to give this honors class an experience unlike any other in their CSU College of Business career. Aside from a detailed immersion into company data, each of the teams has an opportunity to speak with Rick Facchinello, LMSSC Vice President and Controller, about researched material and future LMSSC aspirations. Founding partner and CEO of RAS & Associates, Rob Swanson, also spends time with the students offering insight on ways to approach an organization’s issues as a trusted advisor and partner. “These students are getting a glimpse into real-world teamwork, problem solving and client relations. That is invaluable to their college experience,” said Swanson. “The hope is this experience gives these high-achieving students the edge it takes to stand-out as a recent grad."

The College of Business at CSU is dedicated to presenting students with opportunities that make the post-graduation experience positive and productive. For this class of honors students, the college’s goal has been reached. “This group of student’s ability to analyze and think at multiple levels of a corporation is a credit to their intelligence, commitment and the education they have received from the College of Business at CSU" shares Shuster, "A majority of graduating seniors will be starting careers after the May 2013 commencement ceremonies."

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Rob Ernstsen
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