Course Spotlight: Information Systems & Operations (BUS 171)

Information Systems & Operations (BUS 171) is an undergraduate course designed to expose first year students to the information systems environment, issues, and challenges of modern organizations. Students explore basic concepts of networks, hardware, software databases and systems used in the communication and collaboration in organizations today.

Dr. Rachel Chung encourages learning through hands-on exercises using Excel, Access, Google Analytics, and Tableau in order to create deep learning and cultivate professional skills. Following the class, students have the skills to:

  • Describe key elements of Information Systems in organizations
  • Explain the business value of Information Systems
  • Demonstrate applications of Information Systems to decision making, communication, and coordination
  • Demonstrate foundational competency in word processing, presentation software, data visualization, Excel spreadsheets, relational databases, website creation, and social media

In the spring semester of 2016, the course was supplemented with two guest speakers as well as a field trip to the headquarter offices of Management Science, Associates, Inc. The first guest speaker was Marta Dalton, Director of eCommerce at Coca- Cola. In March, she presented on “Digital Marketing Systems and their Analysis” where she discussed digital marketing and social media in both “business to business” as well as “business to consumer” settings. “My favorite part of Marta Dalton’s presentation was when she talked about the digital market jobs and outlooks,” exclaims student Natalie Ranft. “She stated that digital marketing jobs are in demand from companies and that the growth predicted is about 9%. I also like how she related digital marketing to students who are not planning to graduate with a digital marketing degree, and that even if I do not have a degree in that particular field the ways that I can use digital marketing in my own job.”

guest speakers

Guest speakers Marta Dalton, Ginger Polozoff, and Karl Herleman

Later in the semester, Ginger Polozoff, MBA, PMP presented on project management. Ginger is the Program Assistant of the Business Programs at Chatham, and was recently certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP). “Ginger was insightful and provided us with a number of clear and concise steps to executing a project,” reflects student Baiyinah Brookins, BA Management, ’17. “After the presentation, I left understanding that this model can apply in a number of areas including the development of a start-up business. As an aspiring entrepreneur this information was critical to understanding how to approach projects, and execute them successfully.”

Another professional development opportunity included a class trip to visit the headquarter offices of Management Science Associates, Inc., an information management company focusing on innovative solutions in data management, advanced analytics and technology. This tour was led by Karl Herleman, Vice President of Information Technology, Strategy and Innovation. “Karl Herleman gave a very informative presentation and tour of MSA,” reflects student Morgan Schultz-McArdle. “It was fascinating to learn how many different products (and T.V. shows!) can benefit from business analysis and information technology systems. During the MSA tour, I realized that there are many jobs in this line of work that do not require you to have extensive knowledge of coding and programming.”

In addition to guest speakers and personal assignments, students worked in groups throughout the semester to create an analysis of an organization’s business process. They were encouraged to create a website with their findings, interview professionals who are familiar with the chosen business process, identify opportunities for their organization to improve business processes using information systems, and present their research to judges at a poster conference. Teams chose the following organizations to analyze: Ross Stores, Management Science Associates, Inc., PNC Bank, Coca-Cola, Flower Medical Center’s Hepatic Oncology Center, Chatham University’s Dining Services, Carnegie Museum of Art, and Wigle Whiskey. Each company was analyzed on five elements at the final poster presentation: organizational overview, business process overview, database needs overview, opportunities for improvement, and potential disruptive disruptions. External guests were invited to attend to view the posters and rate the quality of poster presentations.


Dr. Rachel Chung converses with students during their final poster presentations

“The team project portion of the class is probably one of the more challenging segments of the class as it teaches you not only to account for having to rely on your teammates, but also having to rely on the spare time of working professionals to complete the required tasks,” notes student Dana English, BA Management. “It has, however, given me great insight into how business processes are applied in existing companies. Going forward, I plan to continue to hone my skills on applications like Excel, Access and Tableau for use in the future. In addition, I plan to apply the vast amount of information I have gained on business, data, and information systems to better myself as an employee throughout my career.”

Sustainability student Cameron Hayder agrees, concluding, “Over the course of this semester, I gained a practical understanding of information systems by learning how they are used for professional and recreational activities. I recognized the immense potential information systems provide for the future, in addition to their applications for broadening knowledge and completing tasks.. Compared to the beginning of the semester, I am particularly more familiar with operations, business strategy, the relationship between social media and marketing, and using Google analytics along with Microsoft Access. As a result, I believe I am more qualified and prepared to enter the workforce.”

BUS 171 Information Systems and Operations with Dr. Chung, is a core course in all business majors at Chatham University. It is one of many courses within Chatham University’s Business & Entrepreneurship Department that encourages professional development, real-world applications of technology, and collaboration among students for personal growth. For more information on BUS 171, please visit the course website here:


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