In the spring of 2023, our founder, Moyez Thanawalla, started teaching a class in Corporate Management using CRM systems. The tool of choice was Salesforce, and the two sections of the course filled up well before the start of the semester. This was a graduate level class taught to MIS students at the University of Texas at Dallas.
This class was much different than an Admin class (although many Salesforce admin skills were included). The success of the program stems from understanding what tools tomorrow’s business leaders will need to master.
The course itself is an exercise in intense business processes, utilizing case studies and Socratic interactions. The pace is fast, and the students quickly learn how to think in terms of CRM processes. They simultaneously learn the various tools available, and how to apply them to complex business challenges. UTD has refined the process over multiple semesters, with the feedback of various professors who have taught this curriculum. It was discovered that the students come to the university with a great deal of theoretical knowledge and a wonderful aptitude for critical thinking and problem-solving. Moyez’s class takes those skills and asks them to go the final mile of solidifying their solutions into implementable solutions within a business’s computing platform. The language of CRM empowers the students to immediately communicate their complex thoughts within their teams and arrive at a concrete, executable plan.
Each class is a mini business challenge. The students arrive having already studied the mechanics of that day’s lesson. That is, they’ve studied the tool of the day. Most days, this is done with Salesforce’s own excellent trailhead learning system. The day’s challenge could be something as simple as envisioning a database architecture to capture customer data, or something as complex as territory management across multiple divisions of a company. The challenges get increasingly complex as the semester progresses. During the first half of the course each day, students explore a business case study that poses a real-world challenge that needs to be solved. What follows is a lively, spirited debate about the case and distill the requirements by consensus. “I encourage the students to NOT to seek a solution during this discussion, but to use the new (to them) language of CRM. This takes an extreme discipline because the human tendency is to simultaneously try to solve the challenge while we are discussing the problem!” – Moyez Thanawalla
When building the solution in a CRM, the class actively discusses each individual’s approach. They are urged to find the simplest solution that fits the problem. Moyez calls this the “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” discussion. Students usually arrive at an optimal solution that satisfies that day’s lesson plan. Were they studying the product catalog? Did the first solution require designing custom objects and processes? Did they gradually come to the understanding that there is an out-of-the-box solution for product management? Did they need to modify any standard processes (really?)? This level of Socratic discussion, advised by a layered – increasingly complex – understanding of CRM language and capabilities provides an enriched learning experience for tomorrow’s industry leaders.
The Salesforce curriculum, taught with the intensity and rigor of a graduate level University course is business-process-solutioning on steroids. The think-in-CRM approach, combined with the students’ extensive case-study training (in this and other courses) results in a spectacular management trained individual. The students leave the course feeling empowered, and industry recruiters find students who are able and enthusiastic about attacking real-world, at-scale challenges.
In an age when business leaders are questioning the value of a post-graduate management degree, the students graduating with a combination of foundational (think traditional) concepts, and CRM product proficiency are responding with an emphatic YES!