A Case Study in Success

gilinsky150.jpgArmand Gilinsky knows the value of practical problem-solving and critical-thinking.

Dr. Armand Gilinsky has a reputation. A reputation for being one of those tough professors who force students to think and usually makes them like it while they're at it. He also has a reputation for being one of the nation's leading writers of business case studies.

In fact, his latest case study, the "Frog's Leap Winery in 2011 -- The Sustainability Agenda" has just been accepted for publication in this winter's issue of the Case Research Journal. It is the first multimedia case ever to be published in the journal. It is a move toward the 21st century but most importantly a response to students who are media savvy and video hungry. "This is a top-tier journal for scholarship. That it includes the first-ever video makes it a major accomplishment and a contribution to the academy," noted School of Business & Economics Dean William Silver.

In the circle of life that is the education world, the video was created with the technical and creative talent of two School of Business and Economics' alums--and sisters, Alex (MBA, '11) and Niki Scioli (MBA, '09), as well as Ray Johnson, director of Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute, a unique public-private partnership with the wine industry that Armand helped launch 15 years ago when he also served as its first director.

Another recent study, co-authored with Ray Lopez, professor of finance at Pace University, "The Yellow Tail Phenomenon," was selected this spring as the winner for the prestigious 2012 John Molson MBA Case Competition that involves more than 30 leading graduate schools of business from around the world. The case asks readers to determine what strategies this well-known brand should use to successfully navigate the new market conditions that occurred in the "Great Recession" of 2008.

But it is not all about Armand. His students are winning too. The "Sift Cupcake & Dessert Bar" case that was prepared by students in the Executive MBA's "Strategy in Practice" course will be published in the Essentials of Strategic Management, 3rd edition, a nationally used business textbook. The "Sift" case looks at challenges faced by a small business run by a Sonoma County entrepreneurial dreamer (the same one who won Food Network's Cupcake Wars) debating whether and how to grow into a more complex business.

Says Niki Scioli, who also won national recognition while studying with Gilinsky, "He was a true mentor to me and helped nurture a case study I wrote through the many drafts and rewrites. After his great care, it was accepted to the North American Case Research Association conference. I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Gilinsky again, this time on his visionary video case study on Frog's Leap Winery, the first of its kind. He is an inspired and dedicated professor, and I was extremely lucky to have been able to have his guidance with my case work."

When asked what makes at all work, Gilinsky noted, "Students learn because they have a passion for contributing to the development of themselves and to society. What motivates students is a mentor who coaches them to ask the right questions, to do good works for the community and to pursue lifelong learning."

Student appreciation, scholarly recognition, innovative pedagogy, community impact: it all adds up to a case study in teaching success.

Written by Annemarie Brown

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