“The only way to understand what it takes to run a business is to actually run a business,” according to the Babson website. The Babson undergraduate curriculum has been made internationally famous in part through its brilliant Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship class (FME).
The method of how FME is taught has largely remained consistent through the years. However, there have been adaptations to the curriculum to address a deeper global impact while indulging in the opportunity to use state-of-theart technological innovation on all fronts.
William Bermant, a senior and CEO of his FME business three years ago, has made the choice to give back to the freshman class by becoming a peer mentor with a global mindset. Students of the past FME classes generally understood that peer mentors tell you what to do or just help you study, but really they guide you through the entire process with a holistic perspective. This includes understanding the overall value of a team, helping with business relationships, dealing with supply-side conflicts, leading exam study sessions, helping with presentation practice for the rocket pitches, and of course, providing constructive feedback with real examples for personal improvement.
FME mentors are extremely insightful to first-year students, but to the mentors, there is a greater significance that encompasses what it means to give back. By giving their time to help current FME students, peer mentors like William exemplify a real-life example of coming full circle with the FME business cycle flow that first-year students are being tested on.
William says, “It’s great to communicate with each section of the team,” which is helpful in experiencing the whole FME process with a more holistic view and expanded perspective.
Much of the current FME curriculum involves working within a small group of people doing such a specialized task that sometimes it is possible to lose sight of the overall big picture goals of the company. Facilitating an open communication between all members of the group ensures everyone gets a holistic understanding of the company’s global and/or local impacts; it is one of the most significant components of the FME class.
Sarah Dilworth, a current junior who worked with the HR department for her FME company as a first-year, has interesting insights on some aspects of the FME curriculum then versus now. She wants the experience to be “more holistic.”
The HR department does a decent job with individual performance appraisals, but sometimes the feedback isn’t “being used,” says Sarah. Sarah also suggests that “getting an overview of what the jobs are before getting assigned,” would be a helpful improvement to the class. Nonetheless, she liked her FME business’ operations department so much that she chose to concentrate in operations as her personal college focus, fulfilling her own personal holistic FME experience.
The business world is a dynamic place and this year’s FME class is ready to lead these global changes. “Obviously, businesses are designed to make profit, but now we’re looking at how to solve global problems as well,” states current FME class professor David Lopez. He introduces, “There’s now an additional focus on service-related businesses. It’s relatively easy to resell a shirt or a mug, and those common FME retail businesses are great for teaching everything we need in terms of experience, but we’re also trying to focus on the service aspect, like providing consulting services. Despite the fact that these services require more research and sometimes are hard to quantify, we’re trying to encourage these businesses too.” Professor Lopez sees that the desires of the current students are changing over time from mostly past retail-based FME startup companies to current companies selling unique services rather than retail products.
In these respects, FME is more dynamic than many other classes offered elsewhere; consumer mindsets evolve over time and this signature class aims to stay ahead of the curve.