TWU students take top prize

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Ronda DuTeil/Courtesy photo
The winners of the 2013 Small Business Institute’s Graduate Business Plan competition are, from left: Mara Ferguson, Amanda Ortez, Dr. Jay Mabrey, Brandie Owen, Dr. John Nugent and Mary Tiernan. Sumanjali Shrestha is not pictured.

A Texas Woman’s University team won first place for a graduate business plan that would hope to provide a more efficient total joint replacement.

Dr. Jay Mabrey of Dallas, Mara Ferguson of Lantana, Amanda Ortez of Sherman, Brandie Owen of Roanoke, Sumanjali Shrestha of Dallas and Mary Tiernan of Little Elm formed the Joint Improvement Consulting Team and took the top prize in the Project of the Year business plan competition administered by the Small Business Institute.

The winners were announced at a conference in St. Pete Beach, Fla. last month.

All graduated from TWU’s Executive Masters of Business Administration program in December.

The competition highlighted the work of graduate and undergraduate students at colleges and universities that are involved with the SBI program. The goal of the competition was to address a specific business problem or present a business opportunity, according to the organization’s website.

John Nugent, associate professor of business and economics and interim chairman of the TWU School of Management, served as the faculty supervisor for the project.

“Winning this competition is a testament to the quality of our Executive MBA students and the work they are capable of in class and in their daily professional lives,” Nugent said.

He said nearly 400 schools participated in the annual competition.

Last summer, the student team worked for three months as part of the Executive MBA program to come up with a plan that would empower health care providers in the implementation of an efficient, safe and cost-effective total joint replacement program. The work was evaluated by students and faculty during class and then submitted to the competition, Nugent said.

“It is exciting because it draws attention to the program on the national level, to us and to the EMBA program,” said Ortez, manager of environmental health service and public information officer at Grayson County Health Department. “It was an honor to receive the award.”

Mabrey, who is with the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center, said in a news release that the project reinforced the team’s belief that hospitals, insurance companies and providers must work together to provide better care for patients.

“As part of the Affordable Care Act, these acute-care hospitals will become Accountable Care Organizations. Ultimately, their funding will be directly tied to their success,” Ortez said. “If successful, they could receive enhanced reimbursement, and if they are not, they will receive reduced reimbursement and are likely to suffer a substantial financial impact.”

The Executive MBA program started at TWU in 2002 and is designed for professionals with a minimum of five years work experience.

Founded in 1976, the Small Business Institute is a national organization dedicated to field-based student consulting and outreach to small businesses, according to its website.

For more information about TWU’s Executive MBA program, visit .

For more information about the Small Business Institute, visit .

KARINA RAMÍREZ can be reached at 940-566-6878 and via Twitter at @KarinaFRamirez.

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