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Spotlights

Otterbein MBA students see application of knowledge first-hand

Otterbein MBA students see application of knowledge first-hand


Dwarfed by five scale up chemical reactors, Gary Landsettle’s Otterbein MBA class lined up for a photo on the stairs in the chemical plant at Ashland in Dublin, Ohio. His class, Product Development and Innovation, had inside access to a notable central Ohio company with worldwide influence. They met with Fred Good, Ph.D., Vice President, Global Technology, Composites and members of the Ashland staff to understand how product development happens. Landsettle, who retired from Ashland as Commercial Vice President Asia Pacific: Performance Materials located in Shanghai, China, is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Otterbein. He explained that he is teaching the Phase gate product development process and he wanted the students to see how it works in actual application.

“We are using the Phase gate process in the classroom for the students to understand the key criteria for a successful product launch. Ashland teams shared stories of how they use the process, and the students could directly relate. The point was made when Tom Skelskey, Ashland transportation group leader, related how his eight-year project was ‘killed’ and the emotional drama that can take place in an organization. We talked about the importance of killing bad projects,” he explained. “I  wanted them to understand the processes used, the successes achieved and the failure encountered.”

Seeing textbook theory in action, Amritha Abeyasekera, who began the MBA program in fall of 2015, observed “the material studied in class had a direct correlation with the experience. In class, we learned the theoretical side to production and last night we witnessed the practical side to it.”

Olivia Anastasi, a financial wholesaler for Nationwide, agreed that the visit was valuable.

“The smartest way to learn, in my opinion, is hands on application and experience. Gary was able to provide both during our trip to Ashland.”

The experience, expertise and dedication of Otterbein’s MBA faculty is noticed and appreciated by students. Matthew Spencer commented that “Gary is a great professor. As a working recently retired professional, he brings a level of expertise and experience that has innumerable positive impacts to our learning, even as he learns from his experiences in order to continue to develop into an even better educator.”

Anastasi echoed the sentiment.

“Gary cares about our development and truly wants us to learn how companies function from an executive standpoint,” she said. “The material I've learned in his class will assist in my career path down the road, regardless of the industry.”

Landsettle is anxious to provide more opportunities for his students.

“I really want the students to see more real life product development and innovation technologies. We have secured a visit to Core Molding Technologies for the middle of November and the students will see large, 4500 ton presses for molding cabs and fenders for the Navistar truck company,” he said.

As the students walked to their cars, Brian Heft summed up his thoughts.

“Otterbein is a great university with a great MBA director, small classes, knowledgeable professors, and great vision for a MBA program, tactically and strategically.”


Learn more about Otterbein’s MBA program.