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WMU's Leadership and Business Strategy Update


When we last checked in with the Leadership and Business Strategy (LBS) major at Western Michigan University’s (WMU) Haworth College of Business, students had the opportunity to develop and sell a brand of wine through local businesses. Since then, LBS has created two new ways for students to gain real-world business experience in an immersive environment: a training program and capital to support experienced professionals in acquiring companies and a consulting offering to medium-sized local companies.

Led by Dr. Doug Lepisto and Dr. Derrick McIver, the newest LBS initiative is Acquire, an eight-week training program that helps professionals learn about how to become a business owner through acquisition.

“Experienced professionals often dream of owning and running a company, but they fear starting something from scratch,” Lepisto shared. “In this program, we showcase a third career path, not climbing a corporate latter or starting a company, but buying a company.”

Taking the training program makes executives eligible to apply to be backed by a $50 million investment fund, mentorship, and other resources. LBS also offers a low-cost consulting offering to lower middle market companies. 10 groups of seven undergraduate students led by two expert faculty work with companies to improve profitability.

“Students are asked to present recommendations to the client’s CEO and Senior Team,” Lepisto explained. “We run the class just like a consulting firm. There are no quizzes or exams.”

By providing these unique opportunities, LBS sets itself apart as something exclusive to WMU and West Michigan. This type of real-world experience creates a strong talent pipeline while also generating economic returns for the Haworth College of Business and the program’s investors.

“LBS initially came about after several conversations regarding the success of our school and our business community,” Lepisto said. “We needed to find an innovative way to train students and also address the large number of business owners that will transition ownership when they retire in the near future.”

Supported by an experienced faculty, dedicated student base, a seemingly endless amount of fresh ideas, and plenty of momentum, the sky is the limit for LBS and its students. In fact, there are already discussions regarding expanding the program.

“What you are going to see from us is a much bigger presence in west Michigan,” Lepisto assured. “Currently, the program is at 100 students and we want to double that in the next year or so. We plan on acquiring a couple of companies and there are ongoing conversations around growing our physical space.”

Whatever the future may hold, our community’s small business scene can rest assured knowing that generations of Broncos are poised to lead the way. Are you a business owner who is interested in the LBS’ consulting services? Contact the program and find out what they can do for you!

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