Alumnus Forms Non-Profit Thanks to Management Expertise, Graduate Student Field Work Team Reminded of the adage that opportunity is born of adversity, Florida alumnus Scott Smoliak founded a nonprofit group by tapping into his management knowhow and utilizing the resources of a Northwood University DeVos Graduate School of Management Field Work Team.
After enduring a harrowing experience while trying to save a four-legged family member, Northwood University alumnus Scott Smoliak turned to both his business management expertise and a Northwood University DeVos Graduate School of Management Field Work Team with the goal of creating a nonprofit to help ease the burden for others.
It all began when Smoliak had to rush Bailey, the family dog, to an emergency veterinary hospital because he wasn’t acting himself. There, he learned that their beloved Bernese mountain dog had swallowed a large corn cob which was causing deadly blockage and creating severe toxicity and damage to his insides.
“My heart was in my stomach,” said Smoliak, a 2010 Florida graduate, and the son of long-time Florida baseball coach Rick Smoliak. “We knew we had to act quickly, and were beside ourselves when we learned that there was a good chance that he wasn’t going to make it.”
During the nearly two week hospital stay, the Smoliak family spent much time at the hospital and met many pet owners who were thankful that their animals were able to receive lifesaving care.
Fortunately for Bailey, they were able to afford costs totaling several thousand dollars for numerous procedures which made it possible for him to go home healthy; however, the experience made Smoliak realize that there were many animals that never had a chance, due to exhaustive costs. Therefore, he decided to create The Bailey Project to provide financial assistance to family pets in need of critical care.
Designed specifically to help pets who belong to families with limited financial resources, Smoliak drew from his experience as a Northwood student to form the corporation and began applying for non-profit status. He also coordinated with a Northwood University DeVos Graduate School Field Work Team to gain additional insight. The team, which included students Tracy Parks, Kristina Valentinasa, Porawee (Paul) Thongkiew and Jing Shang, provided valuable strategies relating to management, marketing, prioritization, and organizational data statistics.
“The graduate team at Northwood invested much time and energy providing The Bailey Project with many helpful marketing and management suggestions. Scott and I enjoyed our monthly meetings with the team and together we built a wonderful foundation for the future of The Bailey Project,” said Scott’s mother, Barbara Smoliak, who serves as the executive director of the organization.
After developing a solid foundation with a strategic business plan in place, the organization is now looking forward to receiving confirmation of its non-profit status and has several major donors lined up. Already receiving weekly website donations, it is working closely with community groups and veterinary hospitals and is in the process of planning monthly events.
According to Dr. Cathy Bush, associate professor and lead MBA Faculty Member of the DeVos Graduate School of Management, many local businesses benefit from the strategic consulting services provided by the graduate students. “It is exciting to see the value that our students are able to provide to business owners through their analysis and recommendations, and the students get a great opportunity to apply business concepts that they are studying to real companies. It is truly a win-win for all parties who participate in the fieldwork experience,” said Bush who works closely with the students.
Having serviced over ten Southeast Florida fieldwork clients within the past two years, the graduate field work groups are guided by senior Northwood MBA faculty with decades of industry experience. Projects consist of consulting teams of up to six Northwood MBA students who work with small to medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs, inventors, and non-profit organizations. They provide insight relating to business unit strategy and marketing analysis by developing action-oriented recommendations to guide future decision making. The projects present businesses with valuable research results, while enabling student consultants to reinforce their understanding of business fundamentals and to apply cutting-edge management practices to strategic business issues.
- Suzi McCreery