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Learning by doing: Broad Executive MBA students pitch marketing ideas to Biggby Coffee execs

By Omar Sofradzija and Grace Beck

Many college students are learning, then doing. Spartans are learning and doing.

A quintet of Eli Broad College of Business students developed a strategic marketing plan for Biggby Coffee, leading to a successful presentation to the coffee chain’s brand managers earlier this year.

Broad College Executive MBA students at their brand positioning plan presentation to Biggby Coffee officials earlier this year.
Broad College Executive MBA students at their brand positioning plan presentation to Biggby Coffee officials earlier this year.

Executive MBA (EMBA) Program students from the Management Education Center in Troy, Michigan, cohort – Irma Gotvald, Nicole Hedquist, Marc Ramsey, Rusty Richards, and Jean-Francois Vautrin – created and presented a brand positioning-focused plan for the Michigan-based coffee cafe franchiser.

“And they did that with flying colors!” said assistant professor and researcher Ayalla Ruvio, PhD of the Broad Department of Marketing.

The presentation, titled “‘B’ a Biggby-er Part of Our Community,” was aimed at strengthening Biggby’s brand value and strategic differentiation.

“Their presentation was proficient, professional, and extremely well-articulated,” Ruvio said. “Their ideas and recommendations highly impressed the Biggby’s managerial team, and they were invited to come back for further elaboration and guidance.”

“I truly appreciate Biggby providing our students this opportunity,” Ruvio said. “Connecting learning with doing is critical in developing well-rounded business leaders.”

Dr. Ayalla Ruvio
Assistant professor and researcher Ayalla Ruvio, PhD

Students in the EMBA program are required to submit a full marketing plan as part of a pair of 800-level Program in Intergrative Management classes – PIM 862: Customer and Competitor Analysis; and PIM 863: Marketing Systems. “The students in the program always deliver very thoughtful and strategic plans,” Ruvio said.

She hopes for more such opportunities in the future. “I believe it will give added value to our EMBA program as well as enhance our students’ learning process.”

The EMBA program, aimed at business professionals looking to learn and grow while continuing their careers, leverages face-to-face learning with classes that meet every other weekend on Friday evening and all day Saturday. That schedule allows students to balance work and personal commitments while earning their MBAs on the weekend.

“The EMBA program is of critical strategic importance to the Broad College, and student satisfaction in that program is paramount to its continued success,” said Sanjay Gupta, dean of the Broad College of Business. “It is also the most demanding and challenging audience we face.”

MSU led the way as the first public university in the United States to offer an Executive MBA. Over the past 50 years, MSU has helped thousands of current and aspiring leaders to advance their careers.


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