Portland MBA Capstone round-up

Darcy Stevens, Lena Jacobson, Peter Kleier and Joe Scorse, members of the Adelante Mujeres Capstone team

All MBA candidates must complete a final project to apply the skills they have learned in the degree, solve real business problems and prepare for the next steps in their careers. We asked four Spring Term 2021 Capstone teams to describe their clients and projects. They represent a diverse selection of industries, organization types and sizes in various countries. Note: to honor nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) set with the client, some teams offer a broad view of what to expect when completing a Capstone project.

Adelante Mujeres: helping a non-profit organization grow

Throughout our MBA, the theme of creating a positive impact has been emphasized in finance, operations and strategy courses. With this in mind, we gravitated towards a non-profit organization while selecting a Capstone project. With some help from the Capstone director, we were introduced to Adelante Mujeres, a local organization whose mission is to educate and empower Latina women and their families. In 2008, Adelante launched the Empresas Small Business Development Program. With an average of 50 graduates a year, the program uses in-person mentorship and workshops to enhance the technical and leadership skills of entrepreneurs while expanding their networking community. As with many organizations, Covid-19 disrupted Empresas’ steady growth, and led Adelante to examine how it could better serve the small business owners it supports. Working with leadership to identify key growth areas, our team is researching and providing recommendations regarding how to expand the Empresas program by utilizing a virtual platform, curriculum distribution, licensing opportunities and partnerships.  

Our team is made up of individuals with varied backgrounds, including accounting, banking, social services and human resources. Similarly, each member has diverse objectives for the Capstone experience that align with their future goals. These range from the direct application of strategy and finance tools to elevating presentation, communication, and leadership and consulting skills.  As a team, we are dedicated to keeping each other accountable for both project work and professional development, and intentionality creating a space for open disagreement and learning from each other. We all agree that the Capstone process is rigorous, but it is helpful knowing that we are contributing to an organization that is committed to helping others succeed. To get to know our team better, please connect with us via LinkedIn. 

Lena Jacobson | Peter Kleier | Joe Scorse |  Darcy Stevens 

Yerka: helping an international startup enter the U.S. market

The Yerka Capstone project is a business development and marketing project that revolves around a Chilean bicycle company entering the U.S. market. The bicycle is unique, having a patented lock built right into the frame of the bicycle. The tag on the landing page of the website sums up the concept perfectly: “Safety Meets Design.” While each of the four teammates on the project has their own personal motivation for doing this project, it is safe to say we chose to work with the world’s only theft-proof bike because of a deep desire to work within the athletics and outdoors industry and further strengthen and develop marketing skills across the entire spectrum of marketing —  and in that regard, we definitely are blessed to work with Yerka because the experience is unforgettable!

Working with a fully international start-up company on a U.S. expansion has been a true blessing despite having to overcome cultural, language and time differences. The passion and drive from team Yerka have been a source of inspiration for our Capstone team and now that many of our points of contact have taken their summer vacations (it was just summer in the southern hemisphere!), we have grown much more comfortable as a team in making requests of Yerka, including providing various data as well as a physical sample of the bicycle. Please feel free to connect with us on LinkedIn.

Jennifer Phillips | Trevor Holland | Liam Jacobs | Jacob Kuehl

Firestone Pacific Foods: conducting operations assessment, building a sustainability roadmap 

Our Capstone project is in partnership with Firestone Pacific Foods (FPF), a Vancouver, Washington-based processor of frozen fruits aspiring to promote regenerative agriculture and business practices. In 2019, FPF was acquired by Agriculture Capital (AC), an impact investment fund management company, as part of its vertical integration strategy to freeze and extend the shelf-life of its organic blueberries at scale. Bringing regenerative management to the forefront, the focus of our team’s scope is to perform a baseline assessment of FPF’s operations (water, energy, packaging and waste) and include recommendations for a three-year sustainability roadmap.

The inspiration for our team was the marriage of agriculture and sustainability, making a real impact “from the ground up.” In our initial meeting with FPF’s CEO, Josh Hinerfeld, we immediately felt his passion and vision for sustainable food systems, making this project a clear choice for us all. Having the opportunity to tour their facility, and both FPF and AC’s leadership graciously offering their time and support, has been immensely valuable for not only our project, but for our Capstone experience. The Capstone is truly the pinnacle of our MBA program. Being able to apply the skills and strategies we have learned in real-time, having such great cohorts and faculty, and the knowledge capital we continue to gain makes the program worth its weight in all the berries we could ask for. If you would like to reach us, our LinkedIn profiles are linked below.

Tom Litterer | Robert Cole | Christopher Franzese  | Ryan Morris

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