UHV MBA students formulate corporate strategies for business competition

For a winning group of University of Houston-Victoria Master of Business Administration students, a semester-long business analysis has proven to be more than just a group project. The four-person group left the 29th UHV College of Business Master of Business Administration Case Conference feeling more confident in their business skills and knowledge.

“All four of us come from different industries, and by having each of us weigh in, we were able to innovate from our broad experience and figure out the issue,” said Gavin Menezes of Houston. “I feel really blessed to be part of such a strong team.”

Menezes, his wife Tanisha Menezes, Arisbeth Harvey of Katy and Arturo Rodriguez of Beeville were on a team that was ranked first in the conference. The event was held May 7 through Microsoft Teams and included 46 students and 12 teams for the competition, as well as 26 business leaders and UHV College of Business alumni.

Ron Salazar

Graduate students in the “Seminar in Strategic Management,” capstone course spent the spring semester analyzing a company both individually and in teams. This semester, students prepared presentations about Southwest Airlines.

The group of MBA students in the program have worked hard and have been flexible with balancing their schoolwork along with their work and family lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Ron Salazar, a professor of management and one of the capstone course instructors.

“All of the teams made their best effort to advise Southwest Airlines, and there were many excellent results and outcomes,” Salazar said. “I am pleased with the number of good presentations at the conference.”

For the competition, students had to identify an issue with Southwest Airlines and present a solution. The first-place group analyzed the company and decided one of the key issues was the pilot shortage. The team concluded that when it comes to a shortage of employees, the company needed to look at how they care for the pilots and their families, and what strategies they are using to retain and recruit pilots. Gavin Menezes was able to provide some of his personal experience to the group for the project because he has been a pilot for 18 years. He decided to pursue an MBA to one day work in airline management.

“When it came to questions such as ‘what is this like’ or ‘is this limited to contract or regulation’ in regard to where the boundaries of the problems lay, I could give a little bit of insight of that aspect of the industry,” Menezes said.

Their recommendation included making improvements at the pilot training center; reaching out and engaging with regional airlines; have retiring pilots be hired as pilot training instructors; and to use their brand vision to be “the world’s most beloved airline” to recruit new pilots.

The solution had to be both profitable and attainable, said Arturo Rodriguez.

“We wanted to find the happy medium to make both the business and employees happy, because when people on both sides are happy in their jobs, then the business can continue to be profitable,” he said.

Everything they learned from UHV and the project has provided them with skills and knowledge they’ll be able to use in any management role, Tanisha Menezes said. She works as a senior manager at a health care research company.

“This course, and all my other MBA courses, have helped me to be a better manager,” she said. “It’s not about submitting assignments but engaging in discussions, reading materials and thinking outside the box for solutions.”

For Arisbeth Harvey, who works in the supply chain industry, the capstone course was different from the rest of her MBA courses and challenged her. The group appreciated the feedback Salazar provided them throughout the semester.

“There was a lot of back and forth and comments, and in the end, we were able to address his questions and pull off the presentation,” Harvey said. “Dr. Salazar was a great instructor to have for this course.”

Overall, Gavin Menezes appreciates his experience in the MBA program at UHV, as he has had difficulty in the past with his career and receiving a higher education degree as an immigrant.

Charlie Huang

“In my opinion, UHV is the leading program in the country to helping students like me succeed here in the United States,” he said. “When I came to UHV, it was clear to me that the university has invested in the right people and resources to help students overcome barriers and help us earn an accredited degree.”

Charlie Huang, a UHV associate professor of management, is the other instructor for the capstone course and praised the work the students in the program did in the competition.

“I am impressed with our students’ hard work in challenging themselves during this difficult time to finalize their educational journey at UHV,” Huang said. “Through commitment and hard work, they know they can aim higher and achieve something they could not imagine before. I am sure all faculty at the UHV College of Business are proud of them.”

The rest of the top teams are:

  • Second Place – Chang Cho of Katy, Brian Hernandez of Austin, Lester Hernandez Ortiz of Spring and Helen Martinez of Houston
  • Third Place – Aisha Ashafa of Missouri City, Ariana Cardenas of Richmond, Brigitte Nguyen of Houston and Dale Yambao of Cypress
  • Fourth Place – Kara Holland of Cypress and Nicholas Armstrong and Diana Villarreal of Richmond
  • Fifth Place – Trevor Butler of Burleson, Rosie McCusker of Bay City, Latisha Perry of Cypress and Dana Walker of Pearland.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Amber Aldaco