Winter Break San Francisco - A Journey of Self-Discovery

January 2015

Twenty-three students were selected to be a part of a winter term program designed to transform students into real-world business consultants. The San Francisco Creative Consulting Course was held in Oxford and San Francisco.

Student teams were created based on their HBDI (Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument) profiles and the client project, Formica, was announced before the students left for winter break so they were able to ask any preliminary questions and begin their clarification and researching stage. The students met on January 3rd in San Francisco. Throughout the following week, students visited companies including IDEO, Disney and Seek to learn more about their creative processes. The students brought that knowledge back to Oxford for the last two weeks where they developed their business recommendation and pitched it to the Formica executives.

Senior Graham Baldwin Bowling described the program in detail. “In San Francisco, we experienced the creative process come to life. Learning about creativity in the classroom is completely different than living a creative life in SF during winter term. By leaving Oxford for a moment, we had a taste of the "real professional world". We were treated as professional consultants and the expectation was that we would conduct ourselves as professionals throughout the experience.

The teams fulfilled the entire creative process by asking questions, taking risks, encountering failure and doing it over and over. We left the "area of familiarity" which is crucial to creative success and innovation. My team came up with hundreds of ideas for our Formica innovation and worked through the creative process to narrow the list down to one. We created pitch books for our client and a massive process book for our instructor, Dr. Friedman. On the last day, we all pitched our final innovations before the class and numerous Formica executives. It is not every day that you get to consult a major brand president, VP of marketing, VP of finance, HR director, VP of N. America supply chain, marketing strategists and plant managers!

We had a fantastic experience working with Formica Corporation. They are an iconic brand and we were given a task to introduce their products and brand name to the millennial generation. This was no easy task and each group employed the full range of their creative ability and knowledge of the business world to meet the client's needs.

Our winter term experience was not your typical senior capstone course. We did not meet twice a week for an hour, listen to a lecture, and complete a project by meeting a few extra hours over the weekend. We were all-in for 24 hours each day. We met with professionals all over SF and began to employ our creative arsenal. Back in Oxford, it was not uncommon to meet at 9AM, work through the entire day, and conclude past 10PM. My brain has never worked quite so hard as we completed numerous heuristics or creative problem-solving techniques we have learned with Dr. Friedman.

Throughout the entire winter term, we learned to work with our peers. Every team had their ups and downs but in the end was able to complete a fantastic innovation for Formica. The experience was a competition amongst five distinct teams. As a team leader for one of the 5 teams, I couldn't help but feeling like I was a part of an extended version of "The Breakfast Club" as we truly learned about one another- our hopes, dreams, mess-ups, humor, anxieties and awkward life moments. We spent so much worthwhile time together. Without a doubt, it was one of the best experiences I have had at Miami. It is an experience that helped me build confidence in myself and my abilities as I prepare to graduate in a few months and move on from college. I'm glad that I chose to challenge myself with this experience. It would have been easy to stay at home and rest over winter term but now I have another meaningful experience to add to my memory and journey through life.”