MBA Opening Residency consults for Goodwill Industries

November 20, 2020
The new Richmond MBA students worked together to consult and make recommendations for Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia (GCCVA).

The new Richmond MBA students worked together to consult and make recommendations for Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia (GCCVA). Opening Residency is a case-based introductory experience for students enrolled in The Richmond MBA. Satisfactory completion of the Residency is a prerequisite for enrollment in any graduate class.

During the Residency, students are provided with basic knowledge of the various business disciplines that constitute the MBA curriculum. Students work in teams to analyze a "live" case, based on a real firm with a pending business issue. Because the case deals with an as-yet-unresolved business issue, the students must grapple with applying their new knowledge and skills in a complex, ambiguous situation where the problem is not clearly specified, a definitive "right" answer is not known and complete information is not available.

The Residency takes place over two weekends in August. During the time period between the two weekends of the Residency, student teams conduct outside research on the case issue, analyze the case situation and begin their case analysis. The Residency concludes with the case competition judged by representatives of the case company and the faculty.

With an increase in unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GCCVA was expecting higher demand for their services. Additionally, the Virginia legislature had voted to increase the minimum wage and had hinted at increasing it again in 2024. Due to the nature of their mission, laying off or turning away individuals was not an option, but GCCVA also wouldn't presently be able to afford the increasing costs. GCCVA was looking for a way to increase revenues by approximately $6 million over the next few years.

“My team recommended changing GCCVA's donation request from point of sale to point of donation,” said Sarah Nichols, GB’22. “We recommended changing this to a tiered value donation system wherein GCCVA would instead ask customers if they would like to donate $1, $3, or $5 dollars. Further, we recommended that GCCVA implement that same tiered value at the point of donation (Goodwill drop-off donation locations). This was a place we felt had a lot of potential since their donation base was predominantly wealthier individuals. Together, these recommendations were a simple, immediate, and testable change that could generate the additional revenue GCCVA needed.”

In 2019, Goodwill served more than 25 million individuals worldwide and helped more than 230,000 people train for careers in industries such as banking, IT and health care, to name a few, and get the supportive services they needed to be successful, such as English language training, additional education, and access to transportation and child care. Goodwill works to enhance people’s dignity and quality of life by strengthening their communities, eliminating their barriers to opportunity, and helping them reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.

“We had a very good experience working with the students,” said Scott Warren, CFO of GCCVA. “They had done their homework and asked very good questions.”

Warren met with the students virtually, along with Mark Barth, president & CEO, Bill Carlson, COO, as well as leaders from the Robins School.

“The case that was written and the recommendations from student projects were excellent and are another example of the way that business skills can be used to impact society in a positive way,” said Mickey Quiñones, dean of the Robins School.

“It felt incredibly gratifying to work with GCCVA. The executives were very kind and responsive to all of the recommendations. Ultimately though, you could tell that the GCCVA executives truly believed in Goodwill's mission, which was refreshing and inspiring,” Nichols said. “It was a great intro to the program.”

Find out more about The Richmond MBA and Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia.