UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


MBA students and GSK team up to change lives


Each year orientation week introduces new students to the MBA Program, each other and UNC Kenan-Flagler’s core values. But this year, one event engaged students in a new kind of teamwork and community. Students work together to build a prothetic arm

Their task: Build prosthetic hands that will be donated to children – many of whom had their hands amputated as a result of land mine injuries – in need around the world.

The Class of 2015 participated in “Hands-On Team Training,” a program that builds teams and fosters collaboration.

About 30 GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) employees came to campus from the Research Triangle and Pennsylvania to work alongside MBA students. Divided into small groups, they opened zipped bags to find the pieces and parts they needed to build prosthetic hands – and then heeded the advice not to rush and follow the instruction booklet step-by-step.

Building the prosthetic hands gives students the opportunity to realize the gift that they have in their own hands while working together, said Dennis Morgan, a team-building expert from Play With A Purpose, which runs the event. “Each person brings their own unique talent to a team.”

The mood in the room was upbeat as music played and students worked together to build the hands. Volunteers walked around the room to answer questions as the teams collaborated to accomplish the task. There was even a help desk for groups that needed to make fixes or repairs.

Once teams finished building the hands, they put their finished products through a quality control test to ensure that they worked properly. Their final step was to decorate zipper bags to hold the finished hands. Children who receive the hands often treasure the bags and will hang them in their rooms or homes.

Students created colorful drawings of the Old Well, Ramses and other UNC symbols. They added messages of hope, love and inspiration that will be shared with people all over the world. A sudents fits and tests a prothetic arm

In just over an hour, they completed the project and piled the bags, each containing a prosthetic hand, onto a table in the back of the room. The UNC Kenan-Flagler teams completed the project faster than any other group has, Morgan said, and those teamwork skills will serve them well in the MBA Program and during their careers.

The students’ passion for the project reminded him that “above and beyond, there are people in this world who care,” Morgan said. “You’ve definitely changed lives today.”

The event reinforced that health care careers provide an opportunity to have an impact on the lives of others. GSK is an important partner with UNC Kenan-Flagler across many initiatives, specifically health care and MBA recruiting.

“At GSK, we work every day to find better ways to make a difference in the lives of patients, and we want to use this time to work together with UNC Kenan-Flagler students to help others to do more, feel better and live longer,” said Christine Barczak, U.S. pharma graduate program lead at GSK.