Most people don’t envision an MBA education being delivered in a squat, unremarkable building beneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Sunset Park.
The surroundings were ordinary, even a little bleak, but the business the MBA students were visiting was not. NYC Bike Share, the company that owns those blue two-wheelers everyone has seen tooling around New York City, gave the students a firsthand look at how its business was formed, is run and will seek to expand.
This is the second year of Immersion Week, a series of corporate site visits and workshops designed to intensify students’ connection to the city where they study during their time at Fordham. Citibank, Bloomberg LP, Money.Net, and advertising agency BBDO all played host to sessions.
The week served as a reminder that the classroom is not the only place for learning.
“It highlighted the diversity of industry and professional opportunity that exists in New York for any MBA student,” said Damien Forde, MBA ’17.
The “curriculum” at NYC Bike Share covered topics that would interest MBA students of any stripe: startup strategies, resource allocation, expansion, marketing and even theft prevention.
The organization has more than 7,000 bicycles in docking stations around the city. Bikes are rented short-term by casual users, who pay for one-off rides, or by subscribers who pay a yearly fee to use the bikes at 45-minute intervals.
After use, a bicycle need not be returned to where it was borrowed from—it is docked wherever the user can find a station. Bikes are then shifted around from station to station, and maintained, by a team of workers. The company analyzes usage data to see where customer volume is the heaviest or lightest, and bikes are reallocated based on evolving needs. On high-usage days, most often in the summer, NYC Bike Share can log more than 50,000 trips.
MBA students learned all of these details, and more, from a NYC Bike Share staff member who is also a Fordham alumnus: Chris Lewis, FCRH ’12, the service delivery operations manager.
They quickly recognized the company’s struggles with meeting demand at peak times.
“This will cause customers to be lost in the long term if not resolved effectively,” Forde pointed out.
His comment reflected what students were urged to do during Immersion Week: to blend the lessons of the classroom with the lessons of the street, and apply that learning in practice.