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Classroom Meets Boardroom in MBA Finance

Presenting a semester’s worth of work in front of a room during finals can be a nerve-racking part of any course. Now try doing it in front of senior management at a Fortune 500 company.

That’s exactly what Opus College of Business MBA students experienced in associate professor Mufaddal Baxamusa’s Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) finance course.

Thanks to the Prof-Prof (Professional-Professor) program, students worked with Jeff Hawkes ’14 of Ecolab, throughout the semester. For their final, they presented and defended their ideas for potential business “targets” to Ecolab’s M&A division leaders.

“We got to know the inside, the daily tasks and focus of someone working [at Ecolab] in M&A," said MBA Marc Riemann ‘17.

Real-world experience is at the heart of the Prof-Prof model, which piloted in 2015. With Hawkes as his professional partner, Baxamusa connects the classroom’s theoretical work with a real company’s M&A goals and execution. They help guide students throughout with general M&A experience and Ecolab-specific knowledge only an employee could offer. “It gives [students] that flavor and goes beyond what the textbook would show you,” Hawkes said. 

When the time came to show their months’ worth of research to Ecolab’s management, the hard work showed. “Students were well prepared, poised and confident," said Hawkes. “They were treated like investment bankers coming in to pitch a story.”

“I was very much amazed at the level of preparation the students put in,” Baxamusa added. "The ability to answer questions from execs is a very important skill. You need to know how to present before actual business leaders – how to think on your feet, reply back and make a decision.”

Riemann said the class was an “awesome format” and, along with the rest of the MBA program, has him in a much better position as he starts his career.

“This whole thing is a win-win, for myself, Ecolab and for the students,” Hawkes said. “It’s a unique way of teaching that you’re not going to get at other schools.”