Full-time MBA students dive into the world of tropical medicine

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) recently worked with our Full-time MBA class of 2022 during their first consultancy project, not-for profit. LSTM are the world’s oldest and first institute dedicated to tropical medicine and global health research. It is a registered charity in the UK focused on breaking the cycle on poor health and poverty.

Director of Fundraising, Karen Brady was the client lead for this project. Karen stumbled across the MBA projects while searching for her own electives to study as she is currently studying the Global Part-time MBA at Alliance MBS. She told us how Covid has been very disruptive for the charity but has also shown a lot of opportunities: “The idea that we are not all safe till we are safe plays into our global health research at LSTM. The School turns 125 years old in 2023 which gives an auspicious opportunity to think about the future and launching a fundraising campaign in line with this.”

The team working on this project included Isabelle Schenk from Switzerland. “The brief was exploring the social investment impact market as a potential fundraising avenue for the School,” said Isabelle. “The team usually raises funds through research grants but wanted to try something more flexible. Being debt free, the School didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise this so needed sound evidence for the board of trustees as they are quite risk adverse.”

Karen added that while philanthropists are giving in this space, it is a growing area that LSTM doesn’t know enough about. It is challenging to sell the idea of integrating it into their financial modelling to the board of trustees. “We wanted structured opportunities that LSTM can think about as another complementary income opportunity. The students were briefed to think about how it might support the scale up of the HIVE accelerator that we have started in Ghana. We also asked them to generally explore social impact investment as a fundraising opportunity.”

The team were not familiar with social impact investment, so it was an opportunity for them to dive deep into this subject matter, especially with it being a relevant and current topic. The team were from different nationalities and backgrounds with only one member having a financial background. But all round there was a great mix of expertise – everyone added something different and had varying approaches. “Our dynamic was good, and we were all very hands on and committed to the project, said Isabelle. “We found a good way of working quickly and efficiently with a great team structure. Initially getting to know the team virtually was strange, but there were upsides to working this way. Our virtual team meetings were very efficient: we had an agenda and stuck to it, there were no hours wasted.”

Isabelle shared the three things she gained from her first project experience:

  1. Learning about industries you know nothing about. For Isabelle this was healthcare, she learnt a lot about how drugs and treatments are developed. The second being social impact investment, this is a huge field and she felt they only scratched the surface.
  2. The project is a multi-national experience. This means working with people from all over the world with completely different professional backgrounds.
  3. Teamwork – learning about how your personality works in a team

Alongside working on the not-for-profit project, the class undertook Brathay reflection sessions and also personality tests. These were a great way to reflect on how to work, behave and grow as a professional. Isabelle said “I learnt a lot about myself from the three months doing this project. I feel I can improve for the next project.”

Karen found hosting the MBAs filled a massive knowledge gap. “The findings have gone a long way and enhanced the credibility we have internally. Discussions are still at early stages, but everything is being looked at very seriously,” said Karen. “The students gave us the information we needed, which is invaluable. It was a project we had always wanted to explore but never had the time to complete ourselves.”

“The energy the students brought to the project and the enthusiasm they showed was amazing, I think it is a good exercise for any organisation to look outside their key stakeholders for input,” said Karen. “They brought a fresh perspective. I don’t think we would have come up with the same solution if we did the work ourselves.”

Karen added “The whole process was smooth; the students were extremely professional. I never felt they were asking for time from me that was a waste. I would definitely do this again, as an organisation we have a lot of projects we could invest more time in but we don’t have the capacity to do. Hosting an MBA project, you get a completely different perspective from an incredibly smart group of students who have such a variety of backgrounds and bring insights from different industries.”

 

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