Best 2018 MOT Capstone Awards Announced | Technological Leadership Institute

Posted on
July 18, 2018
Photo of the Best 2018 MOT Capstone Award Recipients

The culminating project for each of our three master's programs is the capstone, a long-term project for which students identify a real-world challenge, often at their workplace, and apply the training from their program to design a realistic and innovative solution. Such a capstone provides tremendous value to both the students and their organizations.

Last year, TLI began a new tradition of highlighting Best Capstone Award winner(s) and the distinguished capstones. As director of the M.S. in Management of Technology (MOT), I am pleased to announce the finalists and winner of the annual Best Capstone Award for the MOT class of 2018:

  • Sara Backlund, Nortech Systems, "Robots for Nortech Systems Manufacturing Operations: A Proposed Framework"
  • Matt Bares, Solutia Consulting, "Developing an Innovative Online Learning and E-Commerce Distribution Strategy and MicroOptx"
  • Dan Cozine, Mayo Clinic, "Applying Agile Strategies to Improve Portfolio Management Success at Mayo Clinic"
  • Abdul Dire, 3M, "Improving the Customer Insight Process for 3M Oral Care"
  • Laura Murphy, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, "Improving Project Initiation and Delivery to Drive Customer Satisfaction for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis IT Department"
  • Santiago Vallejo, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, "Improving Front-line Manager Effectiveness Through Data-centric Performance Management"

Winners are chosen based on the significance and potential impact of the problem; selection and use of analytical methodology and tools; the quality of their final capstone report; and their final capstone presentation/defense. After difficult deliberations by the MOT Capstone Award Committee, we have decided on two winners this year - one for a "nonprofit" and one for a "corporate" project.

The MOT 2018 winners are ... Laura Murphy and Santiago Vallejo!

Laura and Santiago both demonstrated an impeccable use of the MOT tools for business problems.

Ms. Murphy's capstone project pursued two goals: to improve customer satisfaction for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis' (FRBM) IT organization and to win and successfully execute additional projects with other Federal Reserve Banks. After a thorough analysis, Ms. Murphy presents clear, crisp recommendations, detailing the "who," "how" and "when" of the actions suggested, as well as cost implications. Her recommendations include quick wins and long-term opportunities to improve the processes for initiating and executing projects. An underlying goal of the recommendation is to shift the project management culture within FRBM IT to go beyond producing project management artifacts to focus on producing the promised business value of projects.

Mr. Vallejo capstone project explored the hypothesis that providing front-line operations managers access to better data than they had access to would result in improved performance for call center teams. His project used workshops, surveys and multiple assessment instruments. Mr. Vallejo conducted multiple iterations to test and deploy potential solutions. As measured by a key metric, team performance improved by more than 10 percent and has continued to sustain improvement up to 30 percentage points. Based on the analysis and experiments, he developed short-term and long-term recommendations. His capstone outlines a seven-step framework to implement business intelligence and data-centric performance management in his global business unit. The short-term recommendation — the implementation of a framework that would allow the collection and use of high-quality data — is already in implementation and Mr. Valeljo has been recognized by his organization for the results achieved to date.

We're proud of the return on investment our students and their employers realize on their capstone projects! Join us in congratulating Ms. Murphy and Mr. Vallejo, as well as the other finalists!

About the Author

Photo of Tariq Samad

Tariq Samad, PhD

  • Honeywell/W.R. Sweatt Chair in Technology Management
  • Senior Fellow
  • Director of Graduate Studies - MOT
  • MDI Faculty

Honeywell/W.R. Sweatt Chair in Technology Management

Dr. Tariq Samad brings more than 30 years of professional experience, leadership and expertise to TLI. His corporate career was spent at Honeywell, where he focused on technology strategy and management, encompassing the end-to-end concept-to-commercialization pathway. He also has substantial experience in research and innovation globally, and works with TLI to pursue research interests in areas such as clean energy, advanced manufacturing and smart cities. Dr. Samad serves as the director of graduate studies for the Master of Science in Management of Technology degree program at TLI.

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