August 19, 2021

As companies around the world scramble to redefine work and the marketplace in a pandemic environment, a small cohort of students at the Busch School of Business at Catholic University will have hands-on experience shaping it from the inside out. With the help of their professor, Dr. Cabrini Pak, 60+ students will partner with the founders of DMV Black Restaurant Week to solve a focused business problem in a hybridized work environment.

Modeled after a consulting engagement, students will be assigned to client teams that will compete for the best solution. They will learn to engage with their client, scope out a workable business problem, plan their approach to solving it, and execute on that plan. They’ll also learn how to work in both synchronous and asynchronous environments, producing deliverables that can be consumed by the client anytime, anywhere.

Co-founders Dr. Erin Tucker and Furard Tate (“Chef Tate”), will judge the best work at different phases and provide 5-minute video feedback so that students can learn how to best serve their client. In addition to shepherding her students through an engagement experience with a marketing focus, Dr. Pak arranged some professional development workshops, which will be led by experts in their fields. Topics will include active listening and consultative skills, and research using industry, academic and government sources. Workshops will also be delivered in hybrid format.

We asked Dr. Pak and Dr. Tucker to tell us a little more about this endeavor.

Dr. Cabrini Pak 

These "consulting" engagements seem to take a lot of coordination on your part. Why do you do it? 
"In all the years I spent in both corporate and academia, I learned the most when I was in the field. The lessons I learned in the classroom were a great start, but they can't substitute for the real thing. I believe that working with a real client on a real business problem, while learning the material, will round out their experience."

What do you hope your students will learn from the experience? 
"We are covering two kinds of material - the first is marketing management, which educates our students about value creation for companies, customers, and collaborators. The second is our native moral framework, rooted in Catholic teaching about human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good. I hope our students learn how to apply both kinds of materials to solve complex business problems in a way that elevates conditions for all the stakeholders."

What value do you see in an engagement like this?
"Right now, many businesses are caught "betwixt and between" a historic pandemic period, and the culinary industry is no exception. DMV Black Restaurant Week supports black restaurant owners, managers, chefs, and caterers in the Washington DC metro area. Working with such an organization presents a wonderful opportunity for my students to serve these local businesses and positively impact their local community. It also gives DMV Black Restaurant week a gift of considerable labor, pooling time and talent to accelerate the problem solving process."

DMV Black Restaurant Week (Furard Tate & Dr. Erinn Tucker)

Tell us a little bit about DMV Black Restaurant Week and how it came to be. 
"DMVbrw, launched in 2018, is the brainchild of Furard Tate, Dr. Erinn Tucker, and Andra Johnson (TEAJ). They bring their passion for entrepreneurship, hospitality, and education together to help businesses continue the legacy of dining in the region. Our mission is to increase the awareness of black-owned restaurants and foodservice providers by creating an ecosystem to support and sustain the community. DMVbrw continues to extend its reach and advance its motto of CULTURE. EDUCATION. GOOD FOOD!!"

Given the pandemic situation, what has been the greatest challenge for your clients to return to a more normal operation? 
"The greatest challenge for our clients is access to capital, business education, and technology."

What value do you see in an engagement like this?
"This engagement brings the community together to solve problems that affect us all. It gives the students an opportunity to utilize their skills and talents in a real-world environment."