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Darla Moore School of Business

MBA marketing students, FedEx partner on mutually beneficial data project

July 28, 2020

A Moore School MBA advanced marketing research class worked with FedEx in the spring to conduct an international research study and inform potential growth opportunity areas for the multinational shipping company.

With the students leading the project from concept to completion in 14 weeks, they developed and disseminated an online survey across nine countries based on options global transportation providers offer on e-commerce shipments. They then analyzed the survey results and converted their insights into recommendations for FedEx.

With a blank slate to begin their research, the project gave students an opportunity to make sense of ambiguity through research methodologies and build a story that informs decision-making, said Kealy Carter, a marketing clinical professor who taught the course.

“The students are pushed to move past data analysis and to boil the key findings down into actionable insights and recommendations,” Carter said. “Students not only gain technical skills during the course of the project but perhaps more importantly learn how to apply frameworks to navigate ambiguity and think critically – lowering the learning curve on future projects as they enter the workplace.”

While students learned how to use statistical software like SPSS over the course of the semester, they gained “invaluable experience translating data into an interpretable, valuable story that can be used to make real-world decisions in business scenarios,” said Alec Klungle, an International MBA student slated to graduate in May 2021 who worked on the FedEx spring 2020 project.

Klungle and his classmates had never worked with a large corporation on the same scope as FedEx before undertaking the marketing project.

Presenting to high-level executives within the company, Klungle and his classmates were able to see how FedEx stakeholders viewed the problem they were tasked with addressing and how those executives work through aspects of key corporate challenges and opportunities, said Stephen Woodgate, FedEx international category manager who worked with the students over the course of the spring.

“Moore School students consistently provide an excellent research product – organized, well-reasoned analysis and recommendations,” Woodgate said. “The research is always well received by management. [Marketing lecturer] Jeff [Rehling] and [Carter] are excellent collaborators in developing project scopes and defining deliverables.”

Rehling, who is also the director for the Center for Marketing Solutions, and Carter have worked with FedEx on similar international projects for the past five years. They said it is a mutually beneficial relationship between the company and the Moore School and Center for Marketing Solutions.

“The Moore School is able to provide students unparalleled access to executives at a Fortune 100 company while gaining experience working on a project whose outcome will inform future FedEx decision-making,” Carter said. “It really extends our ability to teach beyond the classroom and offers unique insights into industries with which the students may have little to no familiarity. At the same time, FedEx benefits from both quality work and an ‘outsider’ perspective on key initiatives.”

Another benefit for both entities is FedEx’s ability to engage with quality Moore School students and recruit interns and hire graduates for other positions.

“FedEx was looking to recruit top prospects from the Moore School’s marketing program,” Woodgate said. “We needed to make ourselves more visible to students so they would consider us for internships and employment. The project format provides an ideal forum to have students see beyond the FedEx truck and packaging that are the primary FedEx touchpoints.”

Klungle, who himself will intern with FedEx in fall 2020, said the project provided him a great opportunity to get to know the company and showcase his abilities before being hired.

“The Moore School and the Center for Marketing Solutions, especially Jeff [Rehling] and Kealy [Carter] are the main reasons I was provided this opportunity, both for the internship and the project itself,” Klungle said. “The Center for Marketing Solutions at the Moore School is making a push toward creating the next generation of top-tier marketers, and I’m proud to be part of that.”

By working with students on the semester-long project, FedEx also has fresh ideas and actual solutions that are innovative, achievable and potentially profitable, Klungle said. He said he is proud of the impactful work his team was able to provide the global transportation company.

Moving forward, FedEx will use the final recommendations the students compiled to build strategies, develop business cases and better understand specific parts of their market, Woodgate said.

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