- February 20, 2015
College students had a real-world experience, not a surreal experience, at The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg this past semester.
About 40 students from the strategic management class at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Kate Tiedemann College of Business spent the semester learning how the museum, dedicated to the work of surrealist painter Salvador Dali, operates. Strategic management is a capstone course all business students must take before graduation.
“Students get a lot out of it,” USF St. Petersburg Kate Tiedemann College of Business strategic management professor Steve Diasio tells Coffee Talk. “There's a strong connection with concepts and theories they're learning in class that are put into practice.”
Diasio has also organized class collaborations with Clearwater-based yacht charter company The Moorings and St. Petersburg-based print and digital advertising company Valpak.
Working in eight groups, the senior-level students were tasked with creating a standard process for The Dali to conduct an inclusive, organization wide strategic review. Students also were asked to develop ideas about how the museum could attract beachgoers.
Dali Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Greif says the experience was a like a three-month consultant project. “They're synthesizing research for us,” she says, “and through the benefit of having multiple groups, we'll start to see patterns.”
The students examined a variety of organizations, businesses and nonprofits to find strategic review best practices. Greif says the museum expects to take some ideas and put them into practice.
To determine how The Dali could engage beach visitors, students delved into the museum's demographics and conducted interviews. Ideas included dedicated transportation services to bring beachgoers to the museum as well as coupons, advertisements and targeted social media concepts.
The students presented their findings to museum leadership at the end of April. Groups developed video presentations, app mockups and timelines for implementation.
“Education is a critical part of our mission,” Greif says. “While normally we think of that as educating visitors on Salvador Dali, this is a really interesting way we can contribute to the community as well, by helping to teach the intricacies of nonprofit management.”
(Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect the name of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Kate Tiedemann College of Business.)