Management students pitch ideas to AMC Theatres leadership

Students in lecturer Ken Ward’s Honors Management and Leadership — Business Policy and Strategy (MGMT 499) course got a ticket to working with a major company thanks to a semester-long project with AMC Theatres this fall.

The project included a presentation from CFO Craig Ramsey, a visit to AMC’s Leawood, Kansas-based headquarters and an opportunity to “mystery shop” at the theater, culminating in a series of presentations on Nov. 28. Seven groups shared potential recommendations on recent AMC initiatives to a panel of the company’s leadership.

The panel included Ramsey; Frank Ybarra, AMC’s VP of communications and events; David Leonard, director of the company’s financial department; and Pamela Sandler, VP of social media and content. The panelists applauded the groups’ delivery as well as the quality of their ideas, several of which they said are currently being discussed internally at AMC.

“These are realistic business problems and opportunities that we are examining,” Ybarra said during the presentations.

Ward noted the experience is valuable because of that real-world experience.

“The course offers our students an opportunity to work on a ‘live case’ where there are moving parts,” he said. “The fact that they are getting a chance to analyze and formulate strategic recommendations that business professionals are actually dealing with is one of the key benefits of the project.”

MGMT 499 is designed to expose students to the role of general management in complex organizations. In addition to working with AMC throughout the semester, students spent time learning how to deliver an effective, influential presentation and heard from guest speakers including Brian Himstedt, chief information officer and senior director of information systems for the Kansas City Royals.

Beyond what the students learn in the classroom, MGMT 499 allows Business Jayhawks to learn from one another, Ward added.

“Since it is the capstone course, you have students from all our majors coming together,” he said. “Sometimes it’s easy to get siloed in our disciplines, much like what happens with departments in a firm. The case offers a chance for students to all consider the bigger picture and how everyone’s perspectives connect.”