A doctor, a lawyer, and an engineer walked into The Jefferson Hotel… That’s not the start of a joke. They’re three of our newest Richmond MBA students. 

Thirty-four students started Opening Residency 2016 on the morning of Friday, August 12. Half are women. Nearly half had seven or more years of work experience, and seven already had earned a graduate degree. 

One can juggle various objects, one has written and recorded a rap song, and one has owned her own tattoo parlor. 

All were immediately thrown into the depths of an intense case study on CarLotz, the used car consignment store founded in Richmond in 2011 by three Harvard MBAs, who were looking to the students for recommendations on how to grow beyond their five locations in Virginia and North Carolina. 

No pressure there.

Despite their eclectic backgrounds and only a brief introduction to strategy, consulting, marketing, corporate culture, operations, and financial analysis, the students successfully came together to suggest improvements to the current business model and operations and provide creative recommendations for growth.

In past years, MBA faculty and staff led all sessions at Opening Residency. This year, alumni and corporate executives joined the faculty to share their experience and insights with the students.

For example, Kyle Benusa, GB’12, partner in Vengott Capital and president of Shapes Precision Manufacturing in Palm Bay, Florida, engaged students in the analysis of a fictional lollipop company to demonstrate his model of value and emphasized the importance of balancing conviction with agility.

Susan Quinn, co-founder and CEO of circle S studio, a branding and marketing agency, emphasized the importance of corporate culture to business success. circle S reinforces its values by allowing employees to award “bull bucks” to others for exceptional performance. Included on the buck is a list of corporate values; those who award “check all that apply”.

Opening Residency is just the beginning. The first of three pillars of the program. But based on their experience with CarLotz, they have a solid foundation on which to build.