Published 03/21/16

Innovative solution lands MBA students a spot at decision sciences conference

On the first day of Bryant’s Managing Corporate Enterprise course, Dirk J. Primus, Ph.D., assistant professor in management, assigned a significant project to his MBA students: create a plan to introduce a healthcare initiative to a “bottom of the pyramid” (BOP) market, one that is very large but also socio-economically poor. 

The potential for targeting BOP markets is attractive, offering untapped profit sectors and a means to fight poverty. Primus wanted his MBA students to add their brainpower to the task. “He told us to act as a consulting team for a healthcare company that needed to bring preventive wound care to market,” says Justin Robinson-Howe ’15. “We started brainstorming how to get a product to the world’s poorest people.”

“We’re committed to one another and have mutual respect. ... The Bryant culture embraces that.”

Like all Bryant MBA students, Robinson-Howe is part of a cohort that moves through the degree program as a team. “We’re committed to one another and have mutual respect,” says Nick Tasca, a part of Robinson-Howe’s cohort. “We capitalize on each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses. The Bryant culture embraces that.”

Tasca, Robinson-Howe and their cohort members presented an innovative solution for Primus’s challenge. They proposed targeting the government of Ethiopia using an economic impact model as a business-to-government entry strategy. In other words, their plan would leverage the negative effect of missed worker output as a result of poor wound care as a marketing approach for their would-be healthcare business to enter this developing region.    

Primus praised their research and encouraged the team to continue to develop their business model. “It was very easy to see the potential of their core idea,” he said. “They tackled the project in an unconventional but very clever way.”

Faculty mentorship inspired the team to pursue research that in many cases would be completed at the Ph.D. level.

Tasca and Robinson-Howe took on the challenge. This spring, they present their research at the Northeast Decision Sciences Institute (NEDSI) annual regional meeting in Alexandria, VA. Working with Primus, they are also refining the research with hopes to publish in an academic journal. “I’m a big fan of Nick and Justin, and many of my MBA students,” Primus says. “They are bright and curious, ask challenging questions, and look for logic or data before they make a decision.“

The pair credits faculty mentorship with inspiring them to pursue research that in many cases would be completed at the Ph.D. or faculty level. Says Robinson-Howe, “The amount of excitement Professor Primus, who is so respected in his field, showed for this project really motivated us.”

After completing the Bryant MBA program, Robinson-Howe will pursue a career in finance, while Tasca has ambitions as a business analyst or in the field of human resources. “It’s pretty crazy to think that something we started the first week of school has come so far,” Tasca says. “To watch how much it has developed gives us the passion and the drive to keep going.”