Colorado State University’s College of Business has partnered with a Denver alumnus to build a unique, strategy-based course with one of Colorado’s largest employers, Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
Bill Shuster, instructor in the Management department of the College of Business, and CSU alumnus Rob Swanson, president and managing partner of RAS & Associates, worked together to develop a course for students to get a hands-on, practical opportunity to use their education to build a strategic plan in a case-study environment. They worked with Rick Facchinello, vice president and controller for Lockheed Martin Space Systems and a CSU alumnus, to develop a mutually beneficial case study.
In May, students presented their final proposals to Lockheed Martin executives on tackling changing industry dynamics, and made strategic recommendations on how to build customer shareholder value in the next five years.
"This is a beneficial opportunity for everyone involved," said Shuster, who teaches the Business Strategy capstone course at Colorado State. "This course provides students an opportunity to tackle some of the challenges that companies are facing and to engage with highly respected consultants and executives in Colorado."
The College of Business is known for its dedication to applied education and is continually looking for ways to engage alumni in such projects. The university connects with large companies throughout Colorado and around the globe to build these types of exchanges and expand students’ education. Lockheed Martin employs roughly 9,350 people in Colorado; 3,900 of them work for the Space Systems business unit headquartered near Denver.
Swanson, a business and management consultant and founder of RAS & Associates, saw this program as an opportunity to engage students and to help prepare them for their professional careers.
"We wanted to teach the students about consulting and pragmatism and give them realistic experiences," said Swanson. "These are the things no one ever tells you until you show up and experience them firsthand."
Facchinello said he recognizes the benefits of the student exchange because it allows Lockheed Martin to help develop the talent needed for its future workforce.
"Working with CSU and RAS & Associates provided an opportunity for us to see high-quality, graduating students demonstrate some of the critical technical skills and leadership attributes we need in new recruits," said Facchinello.
The company needs employees who can hit the ground running and, given the experience gained by the current students, CSU faculty, Lockheed Martin, and RAS & Associates, discussions are now underway to conduct a similar project for the 2009-2010 school year.
About CSU College of Business
Colorado State University was founded in 1870, and the College of Business was added to the University just 40 years ago. Earlier this year, BusinessWeek ranked the College of Business the top business school in the state with two programs – marketing and business law – in the top 10 nationally. The college also houses the Center for Entrepreneurship, the Center for Business Ethics and Social Issues, the Everitt Real Estate Center, the Institute of Transportation Management and the Center for the Study of Global Business.
About RAS Associates
RAS & Associates, based in Denver, focuses on the development of long-term strategic relationships with its clients. RAS consultants have worked with global consulting firms, including the Big 4 and boutique strategy firms. RAS has project experience with finance, operations, sales, marketing, and IT in a diverse set of industries.
About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. The corporation reported sales of $42.7 billion in 2008.