Making the Grade While Helping Local Businesses

Saint Mary’s Professional MBA program recently experienced the benefits that come from using real business cases in class. Professor Andrew Wilson’s MBA marketing class (GMAN 313: Marketing Management) took on a project designed to help a local business as well as give students the opportunity to use marketing concepts in a real life situation. Supervised by Professor Wilson, a student team including Maria Albalos-Marsh, Delores Dowdwell, and Carissa Perault, attempted to solve the Contra Costa Federal Credit Union’s problem of increasing membership ages by applying the concepts as they learned them in class.

Recently, the Contra Costa Federal Credit Union noticed that the average age of their membership was steadily increasing over recent years. This caused a level of concern in that it reflected the lack of awareness/penetration to the younger population. President and CEO of the Contra Costa Federal Credit Union, David Green, contacted Professor Andrew Wilson with this issue after marketing consultants were unable to satisfy the client’s expectations. Professor Wilson’s class team developed a marketing plan designed to attract young members to the credit union. The project's recommendations included a proposed new logo, a new positioning statement, a social media marketing approach (complete with mock-ups of a Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel), and a set of direct mail pieces. Many of these recommendations will be used by the Contra Costa Federal Credit Union. In a message to the dean of the School of Economics and Business Administration, Green states, “I applaud Professor Wilson for allowing us to be open with our issues and for taking on the project, the three young women who did such an outstanding job at creating the marketing plan, and you for giving your teaching staff the flexibility to work with outside entities like us.”

Professor Wilson reflects, “Supervising MBA student projects in real organizations is so gratifying because the students truly engage the course concepts when they see how the organization will benefit from their thoughtful application. At the same time, it's wonderful to see an organization embrace new ideas brought to the table by a group of students. When the organization happens to be one like the Contra Costa Federal Credit Union, which so clearly benefits our community, I'm especially grateful to be able to provide students with an opportunity to see responsible business in action.”

Using real business cases in class allows students to become truly engaged in the course concepts as they can see how the organization will benefit from their application. This also gives businesses the opportunity to embrace new ideas. By putting education and community together, the end result is not only a satisfied client, but also students who can thoughtfully develop concepts learned in the class and apply them to real world situations. For more information about the School of Economics and Business Administration work with local community organizations visit