The business communications class at the University of Denver has begun a live case competition for a local business as part of a broader effort by the Daniels College of Business to connect the classroom to companies for real-world, ethical experiences. The business, Abarrotes Bondadosa, delivers groceries to the doors of customers in Danver’s food deserts. Students are currently designing an expansion and marketing plan so that Abarrotes Bondadosa can reach customers in new locations around the city.
Students taking the class have learned several elements of professional communication including memo writing, business emails, and application materials that they will use to aid them in this competition and their career as a whole. Business Communications Professor Diana Nguyen hopes that the competition will serve as a culmination of these skills where students are able to apply them to problems facing a real business.
Likewise, business leaders see value in such partnerships. Ricardo Rocha, the CEO of Abarrotes Bondadosa taking on the partnership, noted that “as a student, there was often a profound disconnect in the course work and the real world” and that students could benefit from an increased emphasis on “empathy and ability to collaborate” built into this competition.
The competition divides students into teams integrating their backgrounds studying business with research and presentation practices learned during the class to build their expansion plans. It culminates in a final team presentation at the end of the quarter, where students integrate the course material on professional presentations to showcase their final proposals.
Projects and partnerships are likely here to stay at Daniels. The business communications class acts as a pilot for concepts to be included in a core class next year while institutional support for bringing together businesses with classrooms remains strong. Daniels administrators helped Professor Nguyen find a corporate partner in designing the course and extended the invitation to Abarrotes Bondadosa.
While the project is not yet finished, both Professor Nguyen and Mr. Rocha see the potential to develop an ongoing partnership between Abarrotes Bondadosa and the University of Denver. In the future, a new cohort might tackle different business problems for the company with a method bolstered by this year’s results. Moreover, the additional time and support afforded to creating such partnerships as the practice becomes more normalized across the Daniels curriculums creates the opportunity for a greater breadth of potential partners and challenges for future classes.
Relationships such as these helps create what Mr. Rocha describes as “a win-win for everyone” where students receive valuable experience while business leaders can receive the insights necessary to make an informed decision. The community focus of both Abarrotes Bondadosa and Daniels strengthens that relationship further by developing students as ethical leaders in a trend likely to be integrated into future Daniels classes.
While this unique medium offers a powerful promise for future classes, the current cohort will present their final proposals at the end of the quarter. If all goes well, the winning proposal will be implemented to promote real change in business and the households they serve. Such implementation would provide a model for future partnerships to help bridge the gap between the classroom and the community.