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Business professor and students at Mayo Innovation Scholars Program

MBA Leadership Labs in Mayo Program

What’s the next big technical innovation in the medical field and where will it come from? Answers to these questions may be years away… or as close as Rochester, Minnesota.

Each year, thanks to the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program (MISP), St. Thomas graduate and undergraduate students have the chance to participate in a five-month learning opportunity that places them at the intersection of science, business, medicine and ethics.

The Mayo Innovation Scholars Program (MISP) is a collaborative effort between the Mayo Clinic and selected Minnesota private colleges and universities, including St. Thomas. Teams present medical research on a wide range of innovative products, addressing important issues of surgery, aging populations and global health.

Teams are led by a master’s level student and advised by St. Thomas professors and a project manager from the Mayo Clinic. As Team Leaders, MBA students hone their leadership, project management and communication skills. Their job is ensuring the delivery of project requirements, setting milestone goals, providing technical assistance, communicating with all stakeholders and assisting with the final paper and presentation delivery.

Mayo intentionally does not provide much guidance and, as a result, MBA Team Leaders need to guide the teams through a fair amount of ambiguity -- a true test for their leadership skills.

Steve Vuolo, clinical instructor in the Marketing Department of the Opus College of Business, is the faculty adviser of the St. Thomas MBAs. He selects the participants and oversees the MBA team leaders throughout the project.

“There's no cookie cutter approach to these projects,” he said. “Each project is unique and truly tests the leadership of our MBA students. They apply leadership, project management, marketing and business ethics principles from the classroom to real business decisions.”

The program culminates with teams presenting their findings and recommendations at the Mayo Clinic in March of each year. Teams receive a stipend of $1,000.