Graduate students Marine Palamutyan and Greg Groom knew that earning an MBA while working full time was going to be hard. But they had no idea how much.
Palamutyan, Groom and fellow students Joel Bellon, Vivian Ikupolati and Wenbin Zhao spent this summer working weekends and holidays, including July 4th and Father’s Day, putting the finishing touches on their final graduate project, a business plan to help GreenWave Energy Solutions realize its goal of harnessing the energy of the Pacific Ocean’s waves into an alternative power source for consumers.
“What they did was outstanding work in a short time frame,” said Deborah Cours, director of graduate and evening programs for CSUN’s College of Business and Economics. “They completed a full semester’s work in one third the time. Their business plan hit the main highlights, the financial model is impressive, and they’ve provided the client with documents they can edit and polish for their various purposes.”
The idea for the CSUN’s MBA Consulting Project is a simple one: Give MBA students an opportunity to learn what it’s like to draw up a real-world business plan before they earn their degrees.
The project allows MBA students to demonstrate mastery of the program material while gaining valuable experience in consulting and building contacts in local organizations. Their clients get professional business plans that lay out how to take their business or nonprofit to the next level.
Palamutyan, Groom and their teammates were only a class or two away from getting their MBAs. As part of their final project, the team was asked to create a business plan for GreenWave Energy Solutions. The Westlake Village-based company was founded in 2006 to create wave energy projects and technology based economic development that will produce profitable and environmentally friendly electricity and sustainable job growth.
Specifically, the team was asked to come up with a plan in about two months that would draw financial support for a proposal to harness energy generated by waves into a renewal energy resource. As Groom pointed out, “the time is right” for the introduction of another renewable energy resource besides wind and solar power.
“The federal government has said a certain percent of power must come from renewable resources. That percentage can’t be met by wind and solar alone,” Groom said. “[GreenWave Solutions] is another tool in the box for utilities to tap into as they are trying to meet those requirements.”
Groom, a financial analyst with Warner Bros., took advantage of the entertainment industry’s summer hiatus and took sick and vacation days to work on the project. He even worked on holidays and weekends to finish the plan.
“None of us on the team are engineers or have any real background in technology, so we began the project by doing research,” he said.
The team, whose members all work full time, spent hours on the Internet learning about the ocean, wave technology, the environment, machinery and federal and state laws and regulations. Every time someone found something useful, he or she would e-mail it to teammates. During the seven weeks it worked on the plan, the team exchanged more than 850 e-mails.
Palamutyan, who learned to squeeze productivity out of every minute of her lunch break from an insurance company, kept count because at one point it seemed that every time she turned around there was another e-mail in her inbox regarding the project.
“And that doesn’t include all the phone conversations we had,” she said. “Communication was a key to our success. We really worked as a team. We individually took on tasks that built on our strengths, but every time we found something—information, research—we passed it on to the person who needed it. We worked weekends and had many sleepless nights, but we were determined to do a good job.”
In the end, the team put together a plan that explains why investing in GreenWave Energy Solutions is worth it and lays out the business’ plans for the next 20 years.
Bellon said the hard work was worth it.
“It was certainly a great opportunity for our team to be given a chance to work with an interesting, yet challenging topic. Development of green energy is an issue that is at the forefront of national and international concerns,” Bellon said. “The road to completion of this project has been very rewarding. We were able to apply skills and knowledge that we have learned in business school, which reflects the quality of education CSUN offers.”
Ikupolati credits the team’s success to the right confluence of things.
“The team had the right combination of personalities, knowledge and diversity of skills,” she said. “The project also gave us an opportunity to apply both academics and real life experience. In short, all the ingredients were in place. The fact that the clients were responsive and could convey across their expectations helped.”
For more information about the graduate programs in Cal State Northridge’s College of Business and Economics, visit the Web site http://www.csun.edu/busgrad/.
For more information about GreenWave Energy Solutions, visit their Web site at http://www.greenwaveenergysolutions.com/.