MBA Students In Crisis Mode

Mary Waller Professor of Organization Studies
Director of Schulich Centre for Teaching Excellence
Mary Waller

With the increasing popularity of social media, news spreads globally within seconds. As a result, organizations face even more pressure to react in a timely fashion during crisis situations.

How do you prepare for a crisis situation without actually experiencing one? Schulich MBA students can take Professor Mary Waller’s Crisis Management course as an elective – it includes a simulation final that provides real world practice.

Students are put into teams and represent C-Suite positions (CFO, CIO, etc). A crisis occurs facing their company (from sectors such as mining, banking, manufacturing and food processing) and the CEO has just gotten on an airplane and is unreachable. The sequential structure of the simulation is an eight-decision-point storyline. How the students decide to respond to key stakeholders affects the way the crisis unfolds.

Dr. Waller designed her first simulation featuring a bomb threat at a fictional mine owned by Blink Mining. Since then, she has created a few more. Each simulation takes more than 80 hours to complete as Dr. Waller unfolds the entire narrative – company information, various email scripts from the stakeholders (depending on how the simulation plays out), social media copy, etc.

“Students use what they’ve learned all semester, making decisions and using theories discussed in class,” says Dr. Waller. “A simulation has never run completely the same twice.”

To learn more, watch a video (link to featuring Dr. Waller.