By Ovetta Sampson
It’s been four years since Nate Muszczynski (BUS’11) was a student at the Driehaus College of Business, yet he’s just as recognizable now at the Loop Campus as he was back then. That’s because the category manager at Walgreen Co. frequently visits undergraduate classes as a guest speaker, enhancing the learning of current DePaul students with his real-world professional experience.
“I keep going back into the classroom because I want to help develop the program,” says Muszczynski, who presents real case studies from his company to help students learn.
Participating in class throughout the years has also gained Muszczynski networking opportunities. He began to meet other professionals in his industry who were also working with DePaul faculty to help students learn.
“Returning to the classroom,” says Muszczynski, “has kept me connected with others in my industry.”
Giving Back and Networking
It may seem unusual to label guest lecturing as a networking opportunity, but Muszczynski’s experience isn’t uncommon. Many DePaul alumni and executive guest speakers who live and work in Chicago are engaged with the business school. In fact, a recent survey of DePaul business faculty found that 99 percent have at least one outside speaker visit their classrooms and 62 percent of faculty members integrate a project involving external resources into their class curriculum.
Thanks to the business faculty’s strong emphasis on professional, career-focused lessons, DePaul University’s vast network of business alumni and the business school’s prime location in downtown Chicago, DePaul business students experience learning in a practical way. This includes a key component—business executives in the classroom.
Beyond Guest Lectures
Business leaders’ interactions with DePaul students go beyond guest lectures and networking dinners. Executives, many of whom are DePaul alumni, participate by providing students real-world examples of what they read about in textbooks. In fact, many students focus their class activities on actual business issues faced by some of the nation’s top companies.
In fact, 64 organizations, nearly all Fortune 500 companies based in Chicago, work with the Department of Marketing and Center for Sales Leadership to help guide the curriculum, direction and outcomes for the college’s sales management and marketing programs.
The collaboration goes beyond guest lectures and presentations. DePaul business students get firsthand knowledge of how some of the largest companies make sales and marketing decisions. Working on live case studies offers DePaul business students a 360-view of how the sales process actually works. Students learn from major players who manage billions of dollars in retail transactions nationwide.
“We work in a unique way,” says Daniel Strunk, executive in residence and managing director of the Center for Sales Leadership. “In our classes we use live data – data that is current and real. What’s even more unique is that we are always working on a business problem that affects both our manufacturing and retail partners.”
Executives Enhance Textbook Learning
Having executives involved in classes has a profound impact on students that can’t be replicated by textbook learning and traditional lectures alone, says Lamont Black, assistant professor of finance at DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business. “Executives can answer questions in ways that I can’t, and they can give students insights that I don’t have. They’re the experts—they work in these careers and make these decisions everyday.”