University-Industry Engagement Week

Ole Miss seeks to cover all the ‘BASES’ with new collaboration program

By David Schwartz
Published: August 9th, 2022

A detailed article on the University of Mississippi’s effort to build corporate partnerships around its sales, marketing, and supply chain analytics program and the industry-university summit that launched it appears in the July issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here.

The development of a new program by the University of Mississippi’s School of Business Administration to help students learn about sales, supply chain and analytics through collaboration with industry partners marked its first formal milestone last February with the inaugural BASE Summit. BASE is how the school refers to The Core for Business Analytics, Sales and Supply Chain, and it’s designed to “combine faculty knowledge with industry interests to develop educational programs that are relevant to today’s market,” according to the university. “BASE” is also a play on “baseball,” a key element of athletics at the university, with ‘first base’ representing sales while ‘second base’ is supply chain and ‘third base’ is marketing analytics.

The program got its impetus in 2019, when Barry J. Babin became chair of the school’s department of marketing. “Barry came into the department, along with a couple of new faculty hires, and was really thinking about how to connect industry into spaces where there was a lot of opportunity,” recalls Hughes Miller, director of industry engagement. “They started working with one company around this student consulting project, and another opportunity came where a different company approached us — a building sales company — and another in a supply chain consultancy project with our students. Since we had all this activity, in our heads we wanted a brand and decided on BASE.”

“I arrived just before COVID and had early meetings with Hughes and other people around data science initially, and the university wanted to play in the analytics space,” adds Babin. “My expertise includes statistical analysis (he is co-author of a textbook on the subject), and at the same time I felt we needed stronger connections between the school of business and marketing in particular, as well as industry.”

Babin reviewed the statistics and noticed that more students from the school were placed in the sales area than in any other. Geographically, he adds, the region is strong in logistics and supply chain. “Instead of creating a separate entity for each area, Hughes and I came up with an interlocking basis for these three areas,” he explains. “The sales area has taken off.”

“We teamed up,” adds Miller. “I helped broker some relationships into the program, and the collaboration built out this whole concept.”

Using existing relationships, Miller recruited several corporate leaders to serve as panelists for the summit. “We felt it was important to have high-level representatives from companies that have ties and connections to the university speak about their careers,” he says. “We have a guy who works with the career preparation team in the business school and helps manage relationships with employers, and he helped bring people in, too.” Students were recruited through working with faculty who teach consultancy classes, sales classes, supply chain classes, and so on, although the event was open to any and all students.

The summit’s first session included three executives in an interactive panel, with 65 students participating. The panelists were Sage Nichols, Executive for Client and Business Development and Collateral Technology at CoreLogic; Jeremy Duane, Director of Sales at Mylo; and Lauren Kail, Regional Vice President at RJ Young. “Mylo was the first company to pony up and become a founding partner; then came RJ Young,” says Babin.

The second session involved a career fair with representatives from 11 companies, including C Spire, FedEx, Regions Bank, RJ Young, 49 Financial, and Mylo. “There were hundreds of students meeting with employers looking to hire talent,” says Babin. “We placed quite a few students through those activities — full-time employees and interns.”

In addition, he says, faculty have been able to follow up by trying to create more in-class projects for students to add experiential learning to the curricula. “I receive a few e-mails a week, and faculty are trying to move those into syllabi,” he shares. “The sales area has really, really taken off, and we’re working on other areas as well.”

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