Apr 04

MGMT 776 Unites Eclectic Minds for Strategic Innovation

Just when Laura B. Cardinal thought she had experienced the full spectrum of student adventures in her MGMT 776 Strategic Innovation Planning and Processes course at the University of South Carolina, she found herself met with a delightful surprise as she entered her eighth year of teaching at the Darla Moore School of Business. Cardinal, who is otherwise referred to as “Prof. C” by her students, described the collective persona of the 2024 spring cohort similarly to how Forrest Gump described his chocolates. 

“Sure enough, each one of my students offered a unique quality!” smiled Cardinal in reflection of her lively group. “I did not know what I was getting! Just like Forrest’s chocolates, the personalities, expertise, and backgrounds interwoven within this group exemplified the essence of fusion that results in surprising flavor! How fitting that this foundational concept of strategic innovation was discussed on the very first day of class.”

Cardinal added that the lively atmosphere, which permeated each session, reminded her of why she considers MGMT 776 foundational to the Strategic Innovation Certificate program. The students, characterized by their wit and occasional irreverence, exhibit unwavering confidence in their perspectives, infusing discussions with a refreshing blend of humor and insight that is sure to give them a one-of-a-kind learning experience and introduction to diverse backgrounds.

“An anecdote that truly highlights the spirited nature of this course and this cohort in particular happened during a discourse on biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices,” explains Cardinal. “A student steered the conversation towards ‘farms,’ but students assumed the conversation was still on ‘pharms’ [i.e., pharmaceutical companies] eliciting a chorus of laughter from peers. Such moments serve not only to keep the class engaged, but also underscore the importance of maintaining an open and flexible mindset. Another hallmark of strategic planning and innovation.”

The cohort’s depth is exemplified by each student’s educational and industry backgrounds. Two were master’s students from the Arnold School of Public Health. About 74 percent of the students either hold undergraduate degrees in STEM fields or are actively engaged in industries where STEM topics hold significant relevance. Each brought invaluable insights from different academic domains. 

Perhaps most striking in the diversity of this cohort was its geographical reach, with nearly 40 percent of students commuting from outside Columbia—a testament to the course’s intrinsic value and its ability to attract participants from far and wide. Originating from locales as varied as Simpsonville, Greenville, Florence, Houston, Charlotte, and Hickory, NC, these students embody the essence of dedication and commitment to furthering their knowledge in the realm of strategic innovation.

For those considering what is next for their academic journey, Prof. C encourages them to consider embarking on a transformative exploration of business innovation via the vibrant tapestry of experiences that are woven by MGMT 776. Cardinal challenges her next group of students to keep her on her toes the way this spring cohort did in the ever-evolving landscape of strategic planning. 

“It reminded me that it is the fusion of diverse perspectives and unwavering dedication that propels individuals towards greatness,” smiled Cardinal. “For this particular class, the stage is set for a truly extraordinary journey ahead! I’m excited to see their next unsuspecting move.”