Oct 14

As a testament to the high-energy group discussion that is a hallmark of Laura B. Cardinal’s Professional MBA (PMBA) class, Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation (SMTI), the majority of the class attended in person, despite having the option of participating online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, everyone masked up and practiced social distancing in accordance with University of South Carolina (UofSC) guidelines.

No one is more thrilled than Cardinal—better known to her students as Prof. C—who says the energy of having people from diverse backgrounds contributing to the discussion is part of SMTI’s mojo.

“I really didn’t know what to expect this fall in terms of attendance. I was prepared to teach in person as well as virtually. So I was excited that all 15 of my students, five of whom are commuting fairly long distances, attended our kick-off class in person. This is significant as some face-to-face classes at UofSC started with two-thirds in-person attendance.”

Laura B. Cardinal, PhD, SmartState Endowed Chair for Innovation + Commercialization

The SMTI series of classes, which is unique within the Darla Moore School of Business, is built on the concept of how best to manage innovation within a corporate or other large organization environment. In today’s hyper-changing world, it’s not enough to create innovative new products and services, businesses need to know how to immerse the process within a strategic context. Cardinal stresses the need to manage innovation is not merely found in businesses. Health care, government, and nonprofits must know how to embrace and manage change.

“What’s exciting,” she says, “is more people are recognizing this portion of the innovation equation. As a result, SMTI is drawing students from across industries and disciplines at UofSC. Our discussions reflect the diversity of perspective and knowledge base of each person, which is very cool.”

What’s impressive about the fall 2020 SMTI cohort is the representation among graduate students in UofSC STEM departments (science, technology, engineering, math). The cohort includes four PhD candidates (two from Chemical Engineering, one from Geological Sciences, and a fourth from Biostatistics) and three master’s level students (one from Hydrogeology and two from Entrepreneurial Engineering). The balance of the class is made up by PMBA students (one who has an MD) and International MBA (IMBA) students.

“The message is getting out that having business know-how is really important for those in engineering and other STEM disciplines,” Cardinal says. “It truly is an advantage whether your plan is to go into a corporate position or startup.”

The fall 2020 SMTI class also proves people are willing to commute for the class even with the online option. Two students are from Charleston, one from Myrtle Beach, one from Charlotte, and another from Winston-Salem, N.C. The cohort opted to attend in person with only one student at a time attending online via livestreaming for the remaining course sessions.

“Given the concerns over COVID-19, we’re fortunate to offer students options. However, in a discussion-directed class, being together is advantageous. Not just from a discussion standpoint, but also in establishing professional and personal relationships with the rest of the class. Spending as much time together as we do and sharing knowledge in a free and supportive environment creates bonds that live on after the class is completed,” Cardinal says. “This is a valuable class on many levels.”

Are you interested in enrolling in Laura B. Cardinal’s Darla Moore School of Business PMBA courses on Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation? Want to learn more about SC Innovates, Prof. C’s SmartState Center? Please contact us for more information.

Editor’s Note: A special shout out to Ms. Darla Moore for whom our business school is named and whose energy and acumen inspires all of us at the Moore School.