Companies are not only encouraging, but expecting innovation at every level of the workplace.

Casey Porter MBA student

Casey Porter

It is widely believed that instilling an innovative mindset across all discipline and staffing levels is key to achieving a forward-thinking organization.

The Clemson University MBA program is doing just that through its entrepreneurship and innovation (MBAe) advanced degree program. Examples of successful innovative thinking were recently on display at the program’s annual “Innovation at Work” competition where working professionals used their classroom knowledge to solve real-world business problems.

Full-time student Casey Porter, a contracted strategic consultant, streamlined the sales and planning process for a new business that resulted in a projected 2020 revenue increase three times that of the current year. Her innovative approach to achieving those results earned her a first-place prize of $3,000.

Casey, a Simpsonville native, worked with a western North Carolina wedding and events venue, on increasing their business as using the resources available to them. Her recommendation of focusing on a higher-income wedding market with strategic wedding packages versus taking on a variety of first-come-first serve event celebrations has resulted in promising bookings and revenue projections for 2020.

Casey credited the MBAe program for providing the foundational skills she needed to develop a strategy for the wedding venue to elevate its business.

“What I learned in the classroom was directly relatable to analyzing their processes, industry, and narrowing their target market,” Casey said. “I think it opened their eyes to the opportunities that were available to them in the premium wedding marketplace.”

Casey is among the cohorts graduating in August who presented their business-solutions in the competition, which also served as a capstone project for the innovation and entrepreneurship graduate degree program.

Victoria Bisio MBA student

Victoria Bisio

Victoria Bisio, a part-time Clemson MBAe student who works in Hong Kong, earned $2,000 for placing second in the competition. The business development manager for Techtronic Industries (TTI) initiated changes in the power tool and home appliance manufacturer’s business.

TTI, which has a manufacturing facility in Anderson, produces power tools and appliances for such brands as Homelite, Hoover, Oreck and Ryobi, to name a few.

To save time and money, Bisio recommended bringing the company’s brushless motor production in-house to lower costs. Currently, they are produced in China, which could add costs due to impending tariffs. Bringing brushless motor production in-house could produce an estimated $7 million savings annually.

Joshua Johnson MBA student

Joshua Johnson

Third-place finisher and the recipient of $1,000 was Joshua Johnson, a full-time MBAe student. Joshua is a sales rep for a company that connects cabinet manufacturers with dealers. His recommendation is to have his company take on a manufacturing role and produce its own line of laminate wood cabinets, thereby allowing the company to sell directly to dealers and consumers.

“Our three winners this year are excellent examples of working professionals successfully applying their classroom knowledge to solve real-world issues,” said Greg Pickett, College of Business associate dean and director of MBA programs. “The results our winners produced are a credit to their innovative thinking, combined with a business-relevant curriculum that is delivered by highly qualified faculty.”

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