The Practical Applications of an MBA

2013 BCBusiness Guide to MBAs in B.C.

MBA programs offer students an opportunity to apply textbook smarts to real-world business opportunities. Three recent graduates share lessons learned from their graduating projects.

Dustin Sproat
MBA: UBC, 2013 (projected)
Project Topic: Hockey Fan Engagement

As a previous professional hockey player and founder of the hockey-based charity, Hockey Players for Kids, Dustin Sproat knew first-hand how difficult it was for fans and charities to maintain contact with players. Sproat looked to the world of social media, to envision a social media platform that would enable increased engagement between athletes and fans. But with almost no business experience, the program, which he named Shnarped, was little more than an idea. Enter, UBC’s MBA program, which Sproat leveraged to develop a business plan for his new venture. With a focus on linking the hockey community with fans, Sproat went to work and has used Shnarped throughout his degree as a case study whenever possible. Taking this single project through UBC’s curriculum, including an internship last summer working on the site, has allowed him to develop everything from the business’s Internet marketing and sales strategies to the management structure.

Andre Wirthmann
MBA: SFU, 2012
Project Topic: Bone Growth

Winning the first inaugural award of SFU’s Best Management of Technology MBA Project, Andre Wirthmann’s business plan is redefining what is meant by a “growth” business. With a background in science, Wirthmann had been working on developing a new procedure for engineering bone tissue – one of the most difficult types of tissue to produce. After years developing the science behind this innovation, Wirthmann sought the business acumen to back up his research. Bringing his project into SFU’s curriculum allowed Wirthmann to create a detailed business plan for his idea, covering the next six years of research and development. After initiating an important early step and incorporating his own company, IncuBone Laboratories Inc., in 2012, Wirthmann is now working on moving towards the next step outlined in his business plan – procuring funding and staff, all with an eye to eventually commercializing his state-of-the-art technology.

James Milligan
MBA: Royal Roads University, 2011
Project Topic: Vancouver School Board Car-Sharing Program

Car-sharing services are popular, but can they be systematically adopted by an entire business, and if not, are electric cars an economical and eco-friendly option? James Milligan, an MBA student at Royal Roads University, partnered with the Vancouver School Board to study the viability of bringing just such a program into three of the board’s main offices. Milligan first had to discern the costs involved in each option, which meant comparing the cost per mile of electric cars against the cost per hour of cars with car-sharing companies such as Modo.
Milligan then addressed the needs of the school board, including extensive focus groups and surveys of all three locations. After balancing cost, ease and environmental impact, Milligan finished his project by recommending that the VSB pilot a car-sharing program at its head office using an existing service like Modo, but then pilot one or two electric vehicles at a second maintenance shop.