Business professor honored for classroom exercises in entrepreneurship

Graphic showing photo of Briana Stenard and the name of her project Two Pros and a Con

Dr. Briana Stenard, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship in Mercer University’s Stetson-Hatcher School of Business, recently won the 3E Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards Competition sponsored by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE).

Each year, USASBE hosts a conference to gather educators in the entrepreneurship circuit and promote scholarship and innovation in the field. The 3E competition is held to promote experiential learning of business concepts through exercises and games.

Dr. Stenard presented two experiential exercises. One, titled “Two Pros and a Con,” was based upon entrepreneurs deciding between participating in the startup of a company or joining the initiative later. This exercise was nominated as a finalist and subsequently won the competition.

“There weren’t a lot of these types of exercises out there because everything out there is about founding,” Dr. Stenard said. “I really encourage my students that they should join companies, even if they want to open their own firm one day, to get that experience with a mentor.”

The other, titled “Got Problems,” was targeted toward identifying issues that potential consumers of a product may face. This exercise was also entered into the USASBE Emerging Experiential Exercise Pitch Competition and was selected as one of two winners of the People’s Choice award.

“When we’re teaching entrepreneurship, a lot of students start with solutions first. We want to teach the lean startup method, starting with customer problems,” Dr. Stenard said. “The whole idea is that we want students to talk to customers first and gain empathy for them.”

Dr. Stenard worked with her husband to develop a multimedia approach to these ideas for not only the classroom but a remote learning environment, as well.

“My husband helps with the tech side of it,” Dr. Stenard said. “I am not a tech person. He takes my ideas, and he does the auto-generated part of it to make it more exciting for students.”

She was elated to receive the news of her accomplishment, especially since it was her first time participating in this competition.

“I was really excited to win,” Dr. Stenard said. “It was nice validation that we’re doing something that other people appreciated and could use in their classrooms, as well.”

She was inspired to come up with these two exercises due to her desire to illustrate the same sort of innovation that is necessary in entrepreneurship.

“I wanted to practice what I preach,” Dr. Stenard said. “I preach to the students to be innovative, and I wanted to do the same thing in the classroom. I think it’s really important to be hands-on.”

Dr. Stenard is intentional about making sure those who learn from her think in a more business-oriented mindset.

“My passion is to get students interested in entrepreneurship, thinking innovatively and creatively and getting them to try new things,” Dr. Stenard said. “This is right in line with my passion, to help create things that can help garner that interest in students.”

She added that Mercer and the School of Business have assisted with her passions in many ways that contribute to her success in entrepreneurship, such as sponsoring her membership and participation in USASBE and more.

“That’s huge that they not only pay but encourage me as a young faculty member to go to these events,” Dr. Stenard said. “I get a lot of freedom in my classroom, and Mercer also encourages me to do experiential things with my students. I really appreciate that Mercer gives me an opportunity to bring entrepreneurship to the classroom.”


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