By Amy Antenora
Dr. Tim Nash is vice president, graduate and specialty programs and dean, DeVos Graduate School of Management, Northwood University. Nash was responsible for developing the curriculum for the new Aftermarket Executive MBA program that was announced last fall at AAPEX. In this exclusive interview, Dr. Nash shares more details on the program. The first class begins in May.
Northwood University’s DeVos Graduate School of Management will launch in May the world’s first Master of Business Administration (MBA) program specifically targeted to leaders in the aftermarket industry. This seems like it couldn’t come at a better time, with professionals looking to differentiate themselves from the competition in this tough economic climate. What unique skills will this Aftermarket Executive MBA program provide that will enable students to differentiate themselves?
The key to success for any organization in a competitive marketplace is having dynamic people with sound business acumen, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and who are ’effective’ leaders who make smart decisions. Our Aftermarket Executive MBA program will provide just that. Our interactive approach offers an environment for aspiring leaders from all segments of the light and heavy-duty aftermarket to come together to interact and collaboratively develop these important skills. Individuals are afforded the opportunity both onsite and online to enhance these skill sets as they strive to expand their educational, professional and social networks. In essence, students will learn by ‘doing.’ They will enjoy a truly transformational leadership experience.
What issues drove the development of this new 30-month program?
Northwood University has a storied history as a partner to the motor vehicle aftermarket. Whether through our extensive undergraduate curricula or dynamic executive and continuing education offerings through the University of the Aftermarket, the demand for education has grown among current and future leaders of the industry. This program is a direct response to the increased demand for advanced degrees specifically tailored to automotive aftermarket operations and is the ONLY program of its kind in the world. Aftermarket leaders from across the country and around the globe played a role in shaping this unique MBA offering.
The program combines in-class education with what is described as “personalized” online learning. Can you tell us a little more about this?
We integrate online and onsite education to maximize learning and efficiency and ensure that our core program outcomes are achieved. Students will engage with their industry peers and industry-experienced faculty members to enhance their leadership and management skills. The personalization is achieved through interactive multimedia that is timely and relevant to the industry in general and, in many instances, to the students’ employers. Furthermore, our in-depth online discussion and interaction fosters a true team-learning environment that motivates participation and fuels action in the workplace.
Students are able to bring the real and timely issues they face to a diverse online and onsite forum that drives discussion and the sharing of best practices. By placing the student at the center of the learning, it is difficult NOT to experience a personalized approach.
The curriculum will be a case-based learning model. Can you give us an example of how this works?
The signature “case-based” approach of our DeVos Graduate School of Management engages students at all levels in in-depth discussion of specific, strategic real-world situations. This method is student-centered and involves intense interaction among the participants. Groups work collaboratively to review, analyze and provide solutions to the key issues/problems at hand. The instructor plays the role of facilitator through this process so students are able to effectively develop and fine-tune their problem-solving and critical thinking capabilities.
Through case studies, students get the opportunity to learn management by practicing management. As in real life, there is very rarely one right answer, and it is important to be able to make decisions in a timely fashion. Unlike lecture-based programs that assume the faculty members have all of the answers, we rely equally on the student-to-student interactions to collectively expand their knowledge, insight and capabilities.
Who is the ideal student for this program is it better suited to one particular segment of the automotive aftermarket (manufacturing executives, for example)?
The Aftermarket Executive MBA program serves executives employed by organizations that provide any products and/or services for the light and heavy-duty aftermarket. This includes replacement parts manufacturing, accessories, chemicals, appearance products, service, repair and tools and equipment. The program also benefits leaders working for captive and institutional lenders as well as traditional, retail and programmed distribution.
Can you elaborate on how this program has been tailored to meet the needs of the aftermarket?
In response to the growing demand within the aftermarket for formal leadership development, we have tactically aligned our courses, content and even delivery methods to meet the challenges of today’s established and aspiring leaders. We have integrated industry-specific articles, case studies and multimedia to focus on the unique management and leadership attributes associated with this industry. Furthermore, all students will have extensive industry experience, which automatically shapes the tone and depth of the interaction and dialogue. We have integrated key industry leaders to serve as guest speakers at each of the onsite visits, and actively work with our Executive Aftermarket Advisory Council to maintain a current and relevant curriculum.
Are there any scholarships or tuition incentives available to qualified candidates?
There are limited scholarship opportunities available to qualified MBA candidates who have need, meet the admission criteria and demonstrate significant leadership capabilities. In addition, industry professionals who have earned their Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) and/or Master Automotive Aftermarket Professional (MAAP) certifications through the University of the Aftermarket will be considered for special scholarship assistance.
The program features five week-long onsite residencies throughout the duration of the program. Can you describe what a typical onsite visit would be like?
Understanding that there truly is NO substitute for face-to-face dialogue and discussion, we have crafted the Aftermarket Executive MBA curriculum to engage weeklong “bursts” of intense on-site activity.
A typical onsite visit will incorporate interactive classroom discussions, breakout group activities, individual learning activities, guest lecturers and industry leaders, as well as social and professional networking activities to provide a well-rounded educational experience. Within each seven-day onsite session, students will cover two of their courses to enrich the learning and diversify the content for the week. Students will work individually and in groups throughout their stay and will also enjoy the camaraderie afforded by the “cohort” group experience.
Is this MBA program accredited?
Northwood University and the Aftermarket Executive MBA program are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. In addition, Northwood is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Can you provide more detail about the final project requirement?
To further enforce the application of learning and demonstrate a measurable return on investment, we have integrated a project in which students find and fix a critical managerial or business problem that is unresolved within their current organization.
The problem/issue must be inter-functional in nature and extend beyond the student’s immediate work responsibilities. The project must demonstrate a minimum EBIT benefit of $75,000, which should be designed into the project scope. Clearly stated, the project must demonstrate a cost savings or revenue increase of at least $75,000! Therefore, students more than “justify” the investment in this MBA program with their respective project outcomes.
In actuality, projects completed through our other MBA programs have resulted in an average of more than $450,000 in cost savings or revenue increase. Students and sponsoring organizations can rest assured that they will realize a positive return on their educational investment.
How many students will be accepted into the inaugural Aftermarket Executive MBA class?
The inaugural cohort group will be limited to 30-35 participants.
When does the program start? What is the significance of a “lock-step” or “cohort based” experience for students in the program?
This unique program will begin this summer semester, which commences May 4. Students will proceed through the program with their cohort/group members. The cohort experience is quite significant as it enables students to develop a dynamic social, academic and professional network through their DeVos MBA experience. The group or “team” process enables students to engage with each other in “best practices” sharing and to exchange their personal experiences and learn from those in their group. Students get to know each other very well through this process and thus are able to collectively challenge, encourage and grow as they pursue their individual goals.
What role, if any, will identified/key leaders in the aftermarket play with this unique MBA offering?
Recognizing the importance of current and relevant context within the aftermarket, we have strategically scheduled an array of speakers to present to our Aftermarket MBA students. Leaders from all facets of the marketplace will engage with students to foster a diverse and exciting educational experience. In addition, a number of renowned industry leaders currently serve on our Aftermarket Executive Advisory Council and provide relevant insight and direction regarding course material and activities.
How can individuals interested in the program learn more about their options?
We encourage your readers to contact us as soon as possible at 800-MBA-9000 or online at www.northwood.edu/graduate.