A Hands-On Approach to Cross-Functional Business

by Laura M. Wendt ’15, Industrial and Labor Relations School

Laura M. Wendt ’15

Cross-functional integration is more than just a buzzword in modern business, and for those of us in the Semester of Strategic Operations (SSO) Immersion it has become ingrained in our approach to successful business strategy implementation. From studying operations through diverse lecture topics and cases to collaborating with students from three distinct programs, SSO integrates information from across functions, industries, and perspectives. This illustrates the dynamic nature of operations and illuminates what makes the difference between average organizations and industry leaders. Building on a strong theoretical foundation, SSO provides opportunities for first-hand operations evaluation through engaging site visits and interactions with guest speakers representing a broad range of backgrounds.

As a Master’s student at the ILR School with a background in Psychology, this course acted as a capstone seminar for me. SSO incorporates my understanding of human capital with the overarching strategy of how organizations utilize their people and other resources to carry out day-to-day operations and achieve long-term objectives. What I’ve benefited most from SSO is developing a lens for critically analyzing operational effectiveness across contexts in a way not possible through classroom work alone.

With the competitive nature of today’s business, the opportunity given by SSO to get an inside look into how organizations operate is not one that comes around often. The support given to the program from partner companies is overwhelming; information and learning opportunities abound, as long as you are willing to ask questions.

So, why enroll in the Semester in Strategic Operations?

I recommend this immersion to anyone who yearns to get outside of the classroom and learn from a variety of business contexts first-hand. In our academic environment, there is no substitute for the experiences available through SSO. When compared to other options, this opportunity stands apart for its integration of theory with application and broad applicability across fields and career paths. What SSO allows students to do is shift their mindsets about the function of operations and its interaction with every other part of the business, encouraging students and companies alike to push the bounds of cross-functional analysis toward an ever-increasing standard of sustainable, effective operations.