The MBA Applied Business Project: Q & A with the Director of Glion Online
Dr. Martin Senior, Manager of Glion Online MBA and Director of the GIHE Research Centre at Glion Institute of Higher Education, talks about how Glion’s MBA students apply their learning to help their own organizations through the applied business project (ABP).
Q: What is the applied business project, and what is its purpose in the MBA curriculum?
A: The applied business project is a capstone project—a substantial report that has the depth and breadth to show that students can reason and apply concepts at the master’s level. Students start by identifying a challenge or opportunity within their organization, such as a strategy that, if developed, could result in significant value for the organization. Ours is not a dissertation per se, because we are focused on actual business needs and the needs of our students, almost all of whom are employed full-time. A dissertation is largely theoretical, whereas the applied business project is just that—applied. In the Recommendations section of their report, students make concrete suggestions that their organization can implement.
Q: Can you give me an example of an actual student ABP?
A: One student, who is general manager of a luxury resort on an island paradise, focused his ABP on sustainable tourism in his country. His primary data included interviewing the Minister of Tourism—so, at quite a high level. His recommendations were adopted as a pillar of the country’s ongoing sustainability strategy.
Another recent Glion graduate, who leads a five-star property in North America, received a corporation-wide leadership award for the ground-breaking work in talent management she did for her ABP.
Q: What do students gain from the experience of the ABP?
A: I think that what students gain from it is an incredible sense of achievement. It takes students and it makes them into master’s-level graduates.
We want our Glion graduates to be out there representing the absolute best in hospitality management. And we feel that in order to be the best, you’ve got to demonstrate creativity, an understanding of analysis and application, and the ability to synthesize your material. These are the competencies we’re expecting them to show with the ABP.
Q: Does the ABP help students advance in their careers?
A: Yes. From knowing many of the MBA students, I know exactly how it helps. You know that you’re capable of designing a process, project, or an application for your organization. You’re able to give it good underpinnings, the statistical base—all the reasoning you need behind it to prove why it would be a success.
An MBA takes people to the next level in their careers. A lot of our students are very senior already—but they’re ambitious, and they want to go one step further. And if you want to reach the level of general manager, area manager, or vice president, you’ve got to show that you’re not just a competent manager—you’re a leader.
Martin Senior (BA, BSc, MA, PhD) is Manager of Glion Online and also the Director of the GIHE Research Centre. Martin brings extensive online teaching and curriculum design experience to the Glion Online MBA program. Dr. Senior started his early career in the UK hospitality industry before moving into education and training. He has been teaching management and marketing to undergraduate and postgraduate students for over 25 years in various formats, including face-to-face, by distance, online, and blended for various UK universities, Swiss hotel schools, and overseas education institutions. Since 2009, Martin has been the Program Leader for the Online MBA in Hospitality & Services Industries at Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland. This role involved overseeing the initial design and building of the program, the launch, the management and maintenance of the program, as well as the current program upgrade.