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Impacting Global Business: Catriona O’Grady and the Executive MBA Capstone Project

Executive MBA student Catriona O’Grady shares why her capstone project with Panasonic Automotive was her favorite part of her MBA experience.
Executive MBA student Catriona O’Grady

Executive MBA student Catriona O’Grady

For Catriona O’Grady, Finance Director for Supply Engine operations in North America at DS Smith, the Georgia Tech Scheller Executive MBA (EMBA) program has had many highlights. However, none have stood out as much as the capstone project that she completed as part of the program’s Global Business track. Each cohort Global Business student has the unique opportunity of addressing a current issue on a global scale by working with a corporate sponsor.

For O’Grady’s project, she worked with a team of four fellow EMBA students on a go-to-market plan for Panasonic Automotive North America. Her team brought a broad range of expertise and career experience to the initiative. In addition to O’Grady’s background in finance, team members brought experience in design strategy, military operations, marketing and product development, and auto part sales.

Over the course of two-and-a-half semesters, O’Grady and her team took a deep dive to fully understand their corporate sponsor’s challenges and come up with strategic recommendations. The team combined fundamentals they had learned in their marketing class with frameworks from their professional work experience. At each step, O’Grady and her team were engaged fully with the client at Panasonic, supporting their conclusions with data and discussing their proposed next steps to take the project forward. 

The capstone program culminated in two significant presentations to Panasonic Automotive to put forward their final recommendations. Throughout her experience, the thing that stood out to O’Grady was the excellent levels of engagement her team received.

“Our client was so supportive,” said O’Grady. “We would not be able to give them back what we did without them putting the time into us. Proper engagement with big corporations on meaningful projects is a really important part of the program. It is a great opportunity to see how different corporations work and build your network further.”

Opportunities in the EMBA capstone project are not just limited to Panasonic. This list of corporate partners for this year’s capstone projects included Ally Bank. The Coca-Cola Company, Gulfstream, JLL, and Turner Construction.

And it’s not just students who benefit from the project. EMBA students have a long track record of positively impacting the businesses they work with. Timothy Halloran, senior lecturer of marketing and academic lead for the capstone project explains. “The capstone projects are really a win-win for both the EMBAs and our company sponsors. For our EMBAs, the capstone project gives them an opportunity to dive deep into a current real business problem that our sponsor company is facing and use the skills and tools they have developed in a five-month consulting engagement. For the sponsoring companies, our students provide a unique perspective, based on their own backgrounds and expertise, on an important business issue they are experiencing.”

While the capstone project was certainly a standout for O’Grady in her EMBA experience, it is just one of many reasons why she chose Scheller.

“I wanted a program that offered me a breadth of expertise. I love the fact that I’ve done a marketing course, I’ve done a project strategy course, and even an economics course. Thanks to these courses, I feel more confident contributing in areas outside of Finance at work. That is so essential to further your leadership credentials,” said O’Grady.

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