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December 15, 2010
By Claudene Wharton
Ten University of Nevada, Reno College of Business students got some real-world experience this fall semester, when they detailed plans that will help Microsoft Licensing continue business operations in the event of various emergencies.
“I really want to thank the University students for just diving in,” said Tom Fullerton, Microsoft Licensing’s senior solutions manager in information technologies. “We want to build upon this and do more things like this in different areas of Microsoft Licensing.”
The nine graduate students and one undergraduate student were required to apply to participate in the project for which they earned course credit, and were chosen by the faculty mentor for the project, Alex McLeod, Nevada information systems assistant professor. Their task was to make specific recommendations for the company’s help desk and data centers if emergencies were to occur, considering the company’s larger, overall business continuity management strategies.
“We wanted to develop something actionable and achievable that would tell employees what to do and was concise,” said Samson Malchi, who is working on his master’s degree in information systems.
First, the students did their homework, reviewing various business journals and other existing business continuity management plans. Then, they identified a number of emergencies most likely to occur in northern Nevada, such as floods, wildfires, flu viruses, etc., and assigned them each a color code – yellow, orange or red – according to the severity or potential impact of the emergency.
“We looked at internal and external threats,” explained Elaine Hirt, who is seeking an MBA. “Then, we made the Emergency Response Guide Cards, one set for each of the two departments.”
These laminated cards, bound with a single ring, are meant to hang in the departments, being easily accessible and containing quick, easy-to-read instructions for the employees “in the trenches.” The company already has plans and strategies for upper-management, but these guides will provide quick guidance to other employees.
“The laminated cards are really a step forward,” Fullerton said. “Instead of a big binder on a shelf, the cards are short, actionable lists. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see that approach ripple through all of our other departments.”
Fullerton says that partnering with the University is important to the company.
“We’re very passionate about being part of our local community and are pushing to build that relationship with the University,” he said. “You can tell the caliber of these students is exemplary – their communication and presentation skills were very impressive.”
Two of the students are seeking degrees in information systems, while the other eight are part of Nevada’s highly acclaimed MBA program, which has been included in The Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools guidebook for three years in a row, as well as in the top 25 in the country in BusinessWeek’s last two rankings for top part-time MBA programs.