An expected eight weeks of work turned into a 16-week undertaking for three Harbert College of Business MBA students, and they couldn’t be happier.
Kelly Young, Lauren Little and Emily Huang were hired to assess the finances of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Animal Health and Performance Program (AHPP) for their MBA spring semester project, and were then given the opportunity to present a their assessment and a proposed business plan.
“AHPP has a big future,” Young said. “A lot of people are invested in this, know the Vapor Wake name and want this so succeed,” Young said.
The women were mentored by Chip Molloy, former PetSmart CFO, and looked at the past, present and future of AHPP’s finances. “Chip Molloy helped us a lot,” Young said. “It’s definitely been a huge learning experience.”
Young said she feels the team was chosen because of their relative specialties. Huang focused on financial analysis, Young is more marketing-oriented, while Little expressed an interest in working with non-profit organizations.
“I’m getting my MBA, because I saw a lot of non-profits in need of a business mindset,” Little said. “Plus, I really like dogs.”
According to the group, the first month of work was spent assessing the state of AHPP’s finances, and then sharing that information with Dr. Jim Floyd, interim director for AHPP.
“Initially, we didn’t know how big or small the project would be,” Young said. “I honestly thought it would just be eight weeks.”
After sharing their analysis with Floyd, the students were tasked with creating a model, which would allow AHPP to be self-sustaining financially. Then it became clear their project would span the entire semester.
“Basically, we came to the conclusion they can self-sustain, but it’s going to take about six years,” Young said. Young noted that this goal would require roughly 75 percent of the AHPP’s dogs qualifying for training in detecting explosives with Vapor Wake technology.
“This was a combination of working and learning,” Huang said. “It was real work, not a simulation or anything like that.”
Each member of the group said their experience was rewarding and memorable.
“I really enjoyed this,” Little said. “This is one of the first projects where I’ve been able to take an idea and put it into practice.”
Dr. Jim Floyd (left), interim director of the AHPP, with MBA students Lauren Little, Wanyi Huang and Kelly Young and PetSmart CFO Chip Molloy.