How CIMBA Augments the Learning Experience through Transform!

The University

CIMBA, a consortium of 41 universities from across the US, is widely-recognized for its business and leadership-oriented semester and summer study abroad programs. Led by the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business (AACSB accredited), CIMBA offers rigorous, high quality, professional courses taught in English. It is ranked 4th in the United States for Finance and has a campus in Italy.

It offers three levels of programs; executive education, Master of Business Administration and undergraduate programs. 

In addition to business courses, CIMBA also offers engineering and several elective courses during its 4-week summer program. Programs are designed to provide students with a meaningful international experience while allowing them to remain on track for graduation.


Amplifying the Curriculum
with Strategy Tools

Scott Newton is a Senior Program Manager at CIMBA and develops and contributes to Executive Learning Strategy and Consulting Programs.

In the full-time MBA program, Scott works with his students on consortium projects. Students are placed in real-life projects in leading multinational companies to accelerate the pace and depth of learning. 

“Last year, for example, we worked on a solar energy project with the world’s largest producer of solar energy manufacturing plants, we worked on a nuclear energy project on how they can develop nuclear energy safely in Europe and the world, and we worked with a third organization on digital transformation.” he explained.

Before they delve into the real-life projects, all MBA students go through the Strategy Tools Global Coaches program where they learn how to use different Strategy Tools canvases to communicate with the Board, the CEO, and the management.

In addition and as part of their executive education and leadership programs, CIMBA offers a Certificate in International Management which includes modules on Digital Transformation and Strategy.

The program participants are typically company owners, CEOs, or senior managers in companies. The majority of the participants come from all over Europe, but the program also sees participants from the US and India as well. 

“The Digital Transformation program has been very successful over the past years, and we were using a range of case studies and guest speakers as part of the program. However, it was missing this element of competitiveness, of learning by doing,” said Scott. 

To solve that, the Transform! Strategy & Transformation Simulation was included as part of the curriculum.

“We have tried simulating that in other ways, like taking the learners to companies where they can go inside the factory and walk the floor, talk to the executives, management and the frontline, but it’s not the same because you cannot capture the elements like you can with Transform!” explained Scott. 

“The simulation adds a very special element that accelerates the teaching and learning. As a facilitator, I also learn a lot more than I usually do in a more question-answer learning format,” he added.


Effective Remote Learning

The Digital Transformation Program at CIMBA normally runs in-person, with participants flying into the CIMBA Italy campus. However, with the Covid travel restrictions this year, that proved to be difficult. The program had to go digital.

“Some of the learners were really concerned about this going into it, because they miss the classroom,” revealed Scott.

In the end however, the program this year ended up a great success despite being completely digital. 

“I don’t know how I would’ve run the program this year without the simulation. Despite the concern from the learners about this being digital, we’ve managed to create a special environment online that was in some ways better even than being there in person,” said Scott.

“We had feedback from the learners about how they were expecting something really boring and disappointing but instead got something that made them go “wow”,” he added. 



Maximized learning and fun for a great student experience

The Digital Transformation program incorporates the Transform! Simulation, interspersed with case studies that are relevant to the current business landscape. It also invites alumni executives that have been through the simulation before to provide participants with a practical, real-world point of view.

“Out of everything I do throughout the year, this has the best student reviews and the highest scores. The students have such a great experience with it – they love that it is a simulation rather than a PowerPoint or a textbook. They love that we invite executives who have done this before, who share how they see the same barriers in the simulation as they do in their real-life companies,” Scott shared.

“What the learners really liked about Transform! is that they can work in a small team, there’s a competitive element which is always fun and stimulating. At the end of the 19 hours, spread over two days, it’s the only program where people are asking to stay more. We’ve literally had to kick them out of the building because the cleaning staff had to come in to clean the room.” 


Highly relevant and applicable – right away

“This different way of learning not only makes it more fun, but makes it more experiential. People are able to take it and immediately walk back to their job and careers on a Monday morning and do something different.” said Scott. 

“From a learner’s point of view, this is fantastic. The executives who join the program are not here only for the credentials. They are investing to make their careers, their business and teams better. So when we give them concrete tools they can use, and do it in an experiential way, the value add increases dramatically.”


A great differentiator in the education market

CIMBA strongly believes in learning by doing, and with the executive education space getting more and more competitive, CIMBA uses the Transform! Simulation as a differentiator in the market. The addition of the simulation in the curriculum adds to their value proposition due to its innovative and immersive learning environment. 



“As an instructor, it’s really rewarding to me to see people getting it, making the mistakes and fixing their mistakes. It’s perfect, because I can tell someone about a mistake all day long, but if they haven’t made it themselves, it’s not theirs, it’s not a story they live and breathe. That’s what the Transform! Simulation does – it gives people the ability to live and breathe both the ups and the downs.”

Scott B. Newton
Program Leader, CIMBA Italy
Managing Partner, Thinking Dimensions

Scott Newton joined CIMBA in 2002, and has held the role of Senior Program Manager since 2018. In this role he develops and contirbutes to Executive Learning Strategy and Consulting programmes, and is responsible for the Full Time MBA learners programme in Consulting. Scott also is a member of the delivery team for the Senior Executive Strategy Programs, Digital Transformation, and the Flagship Executive Certificiate in International Management which is celebrating the 20th anniversary this year.

Learn more about CIMBA here.


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