Alumni mentors boost Opening Residency success in Hamilton Beach Brands case

September 13, 2019
The 2019 Opening Residency for The Richmond MBA hosted 19 students.

The 2019 Opening Residency for The Richmond MBA hosted 19 students who successfully completed a case study for Hamilton Beach Brands. The Richmond based company is one of the country’s leading distributors of small household appliances and sells more than 34 million products every year.

“We had a great experience. The students were inquisitive and very engaged in the case, which was evident during the case kickoff,” said Atle Larsen, GB’08, vice president of product marketing for Hamilton Beach Brands.

Larsen, who completed Opening Residency himself in 2004 was eager to help current students with the experience.

“I saw the opportunity to participate in the Opening Residency as a win-win. The MBA students gained exposure to a current business challenge and Hamilton Beach gained a unique set of possible solutions,” Larsen said.

The two-weekend long Opening Residency program gives students a crash course in business consulting to prepare them for their graduate studies. Students attend seminars in the basics of various business disciplines, while working in groups to analyze a case for a client.

Larsen worked closely with Debbie Fisher, associate director of The Richmond MBA, and Randy Raggio, director of The Richmond MBA, to develop a case that would challenge the students as well as give them the opportunity to flex their critical thinking and presentation skills.

“The case was really about how to launch highly innovative products and sustain sales over time,” Larsen said. “The students evaluated both a new and a mature product concept using their own market analysis. The final recommendation included the suggested launch plan for the highest net present value concept. The team at Hamilton Beach was impressed with the students’ ideas and recommendations.”

But Raggio and Fisher wanted to take the program one step further, and asked other Richmond MBA alumni to serve as mentors to work closely with the student groups throughout the two weeks.

Brandon Fountain, GB’15, agreed to mentor a group of students.

“It was a great experience to be able to help the MBA students with their Opening Residency case,” Fountain said. “I was able to give them advice, help them solicit the right questions to ask, and get them where they needed to go.”

Larsen and Fountain agree it was fulfilling to work with students who were following in their footsteps in The Richmond MBA Opening Residency.

“It was great working with the new students,” Fountain said. “I think we had a great group. They were very open and receptive. Since this was the first time advisors joined the students in the competition, we didn’t have a precedent, so I told them that I was there for them. And it worked really well for us.” 

The students in the 2019 class come from diverse backgrounds, with professions ranging from finance and accounting to engineering, optometry, and religious education. You can learn more about The Richmond MBA program and how it can fit into your professional career here.