How Action Learning Enriched My MBA Experience

Written by: Philipp Schneider, MBA ’22 

The UB MBA program is designed to create an ecosystem of both in-classroom and outside-the-classroom learning opportunities for students. This ecosystem includes both “traditional” ways of academic teaching, through a variety of challenging and well-rounded classes, and a component called “Action Learning.” The concept of Action Learning foots on the belief that MBA students learn best in real-world environments where they are encouraged to apply in-classroom learnings to real-world business scenarios. 

Action Learning has shaped me significantly in my growth journey throughout the UB MBA program and has offered concepts and learnings that I’m looking forward to applying in my professional career. Below are three instances in which Action Learning situations have challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone and truly learn by doing. 

Corporate Champions 

For me, the most prominent Action Learning component of the UB MBA is the Corporate Champions program, which shaped a large part of my first year in the program. At orientation, I got to know my Corporate Champion team – a group of five fellow MBA candidates and me, and our corporate partner, a full-service communication agency in Buffalo that operates throughout the East Coast.  

Our team was diverse in every sense of the word, with none of us having a remotely similar background. Whether it was engineering, finance, marketing and sales or social media, each one of us had a unique story to tell and a distinct perspective to attacking projects and case studies. I’m convinced this was a large factor of what made us a great team. In my pre-MBA work experience, I noticed that I’m subconsciously surrounding myself with people of the same interests. Not only did we work in the same industry, but we read the same papers, watched the same shows, went to the same places and had similar hobbies. Being surrounded with students of so vastly different backgrounds was incredibly refreshing and caused more than one situation in which I thought, “Wow, I have not considered that at all- let’s look into that!”  

This kind of diversity was an invaluable asset to our Corporate Champions team, as our first semester threw projects and case studies at us left and right. Figuring out how to leverage our strengths and follow a group process was a key Action Learning takeaway from my first semester. 

Equity Research Group 

UB’s School of Management is home to a large number of student-run groups and associations, two of which had a tremendous impact on me. In my first year of the MBA program, I was an active member of the UB Equity Research Group. In weekly meetings, members took turns presenting capital market concepts and sparking discussions about current developments in equity markets.  

After a few weeks in the group and taking a self-paced course on how to build financial models, I felt confident enough to conduct a quantitative and qualitative analysis on a Fortune 100 company and write an analyst report, which was peer-reviewed within the group. I was surprised myself by how much I was able to learn from my peers in such a short timeframe, and proud to have stepped outside of my comfort zone to develop a new skill. 

MBA Consulting Group 

My steepest learning curve in the program comes from my engagement with the UB MBA Consulting Group. With experience in management consulting under my belt, engaging with this group was a significant goal of mine coming into the program. Unfortunately, due to the abrupt shift from an in-person to a remote environment, the group was not able to achieve as much as it wanted to in the 2020/2021 academic year. 

As we wrapped up our first year in the program, my classmate and good friend, Jack DeMarco, and I decided to take charge of the group as Vice President and President. We drafted a strategy on how we wanted to turn the group into a sustainably successful operation. With the help from faculty advisors and fellow students who we brought on as E-Board members and consultants, we were able to get three consulting projects in the fall and eventually recruit a strong cohort of first-year MBA students into the group.  

Getting to the point where we are now required more than a few late-night calls, work sessions, and PowerPoint decks, but it was infinitely worth it. As one of the leaders of this group, I have learned more about leadership, strategy and the importance of a great team than I ever thought was possible. I encourage every student to look into student groups and associations and join one that fits your interests. Of course, I want to point out that the UB MBA Consulting Group is a great place to gain first-hand, real-world experience by working on consulting projects for small-and mid-sized businesses in the Buffalo community and networking with fellow MBA students. 

Picking only three instances in which Action Learning has impacted me was not easy, as they are plentiful throughout the program. These three examples illustrate how important it was for my personal and professional development to not only learn through books and lectures but also through the Action Learning method of “learning by doing.” 

Bio – Philipp is a second year MBA student at UB, concentrating in Finance, Analytics and Management Consulting. Originally from Regensburg, Germany, Philipp earned an undergraduate degree in business administration and finance from the University of Regensburg and began a career in Management Consulting after graduation. As president of the UB MBA Consulting Group he takes an active role in UB’s student community by coordinating and working on pro-bono projects for small- and mid-sized businesses in the Buffalo community. Philipp strives to apply quantitative and leadership skills that he acquired during his time at UB in a Management Consulting role after graduation. 

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