Members of cohort 2 of the Master of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Business Analytics work in groups during a data visualization class. Virginia Tech photo

Pamplin College of Business’s Center for Business Analytics (CBA) has announced a partnership with ValleyStar Credit Union for sponsorship of the program’s capstone project. Under the agreement, Master of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Business Analytics (MSBA-BA) students will work with the ValleyStar risk and compliance team to take a critical look at the data used in the credit union's current enterprise risk management framework.

An enterprise risk management framework is the proactive, coordinated approach to identifying, addressing, and managing an organization’s risks.

“The MSBA-BA graduate degree program considers and accepts students from a wide range of backgrounds and undergraduate majors,” said Luke Williams, CBA associate director. “This is a key contributor to the strength of its capstone teams. As our students are trained to tackle complex business problems through their focused coursework, they are simultaneously encouraged to bring their previous experiences and perspectives to bear on finding the best solution. 

Our experience shows that having this diversity of skills and experiences leads to better problem solving and a stronger solution for the client.”

The capstone project is the cornerstone activity of the MSBA-BA program. Students work on interdisciplinary, four-to-five-member teams on a corporate project that has significant strategic and/or operational importance. At the end of the project, students make a formal presentation to company executives that includes a professional consulting report that summarizes and supports their findings and builds a business case for their recommendations.

Capstone projects allow students to work closely with corporate sponsors and faculty advisors, creating an exceptional experiential learning opportunity, one which connects the classroom to real-world problems and decision-makers. The experience not only enhances students’ technical skills but provides business acumen that facilitates the execution of those skills. The combination of a rigorous 30-hour academic courseload, combined with a 9-month capstone experience, produces graduates ready to contribute immediately to the corporate world.

“ValleyStar Credit Union gains the diversity of knowledge that comes from a team of graduate students with such backgrounds as finance, business, and journalism,” said Robert Sparrow, chief risk officer at ValleyStar Credit Union. “The students gain the real-world experience of building data-driven methodologies in real-life applications. In the end, ValleyStar members will benefit from the increased efficiency and effectiveness of credit union operations.”

A driving force within Virginia Tech for the creation of collaborative relationships with students, faculty, and corporate leaders, the CBA advances best practices in the emerging fields of business analytics research and education. The program leads curricular initiatives for students with interests in business analytics and builds synergistic partnerships within the Virginia business community.  

“We are grateful to ValleyStar for their sponsorship of a capstone project this year,” said Williams. “This partnership represents a valuable educational opportunity for our students that will make them better professionals. We are confident in the value of our capstone teams, and we look forward to seeing what solution this year’s MSBA-BA students will deliver.”

Other corporate partners for MSBA-BA capstone projects include Advance Auto, Carter Machinery, Inorganic Ventures, Leidos, NASA, and X-Energy.