On Feb. 17, the University of Dallas officially announced a partnership between the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business and American Airlines. The partnership is the culmination of several months of negotiations and allows UD to increase the range and scope of opportunities for graduates in the world of corporate business.
In a press release from Feb. 17, Gupta College of Business Dean Brett Landry explained the decision to partner with AA. “Their commitment to the success of their employees along with our commitment to prepare students to become principled business leaders makes our partnership a natural fit,” he said.
The partnership enables the college to better prepare students in a wide variety of management skills, as well as open the door for opportunities to serve in a wide range of industries. Specifically, with AA, the partnership provides its employees with a discounted rate for graduate business courses.
Rebecca Almanza, director of corporate relations and partnerships at UD, was a central figure in facilitating the partnership.
Almanza finds and maintains connections with corporate partners for the university, as well as organizes events that connect corporate partners with educational opportunities, potential employees, faculty experts and other campus resources.
Almanza commented that the best way to approach a successful partnership is to start small and build the connection.
“We’ve been working with AA for a couple of years now, and we thought that they would be a great fit for a partnership. The best thing to do, then, is develop a relationship, and let them get to know us as a university,” she said.
The Department of Corporate Relations and Partnerships has multiple avenues of engagement that are designed to give potential partners a good look at the school and its students, as well as the benefits of being a partner. Their website lists five different approaches, including the Executives on Campus program, which invites over 70 corporate executives to UD each year.
On June 30, 2021, Almanza coordinated a Corporate Roundtable webinar discussion with Saba D. Beyene, managing director of peoples operations and analytics. The discussion was centered around business analytics and specifically addressed what skills and traits are needed to be successful in the field of data science.
According to Almanza, the Roundtable was the foundation upon which a new relationship was to be built, and she started to approach AA with the idea of beginning a mutually beneficial partnership.
“In that session, I approached [Beyene] and asked her if she would be interested in opening a discussion,” Almanza said.
A partnership, she explained, would allow increased opportunities for graduate students to connect with AA and also provide AA employees with the chance to take classes at a discount.
“They liked how UD was right down the street, that we offered graduate programs both online and in person, and they loved the idea of recruiting the kind of people that our students are,” Almanza said.
UD has an MBA program called the Capstone Experience, which allows graduates to show off their skills and knowledge to design and propose solutions to real-world business problems. UD students who plan to pursue MBAs are excited and hopeful for the future, especially in light of the partnership with AA.
Gabriel Kulda, sophomore business major, commented that he can already see how the partnership could be beneficial, not just to him personally, but for the business school at large.
“As a business major who’s considering staying for my MBA, I’m always on the lookout for chances to get involved, to get exposure, in the business world, and I think partnering with such a prominent corporation could be so clutch,” Kulda said. “Imagine if I got the chance to work with American Airlines to solve one of their business issues. I’m already coming up with ideas!”
Almanza affirmed the notion that the future is exciting, and that the partnership was a massive, mutually beneficial success.
“Having a partnership with AA provides us a great opportunity to connect with their employees, as well as to expose our own students to a prestigious potential employer. We hope we can transform not only their journey, but that of our students as well.”