Integrated Core Experience

The Integrated Core Experience (ICE), McIntire’s cutting-edge third-year core curriculum, is carefully constructed to provide students with the technical, analytical, strategic-thinking and behavioral skills they need to successfully tackle real-world business problems. ICE is characterized by an intellectual and practical rigor rarely found at the undergraduate level. Over the course of the fall semester, students analyze a single business case, looking deeply at a given business’s numerous functions and the particular challenges it faces.

Benefits of ICE Sponsorship

McIntire’s corporate ICE sponsors not only develop close and lasting relationships with McIntire faculty members and students, they also benefit from the superb analytical skills, creativity, and fresh perspectives that students bring to the complex business problems with which sponsors present them.

ICE also offers sponsor companies a powerful recruitment tool as they search for their businesses’ next generation of leaders. Watching McIntire students problem solve gives sponsors the opportunity to gauge their academic caliber, analytic skills, and work ethic, as well as their leadership abilities and personal traits. Partnering with McIntire as an ICE sponsor affords businesses access to some of the world’s most promising young businesspeople—outstanding potential employees who have gained a deep familiarity not only with the dynamics of a sponsor company, but also with the challenges and opportunities the sponsor company faces.

Project Examples

Anheuser-Busch InBev

Students are tasked with offering creative, comprehensive insights into challenging questions of potential strategic direction for leading global brewer and consumer products company Anheuser-Busch InBev. With operations in 25 countries, sales in more than 100 countries, and 2014 revenues of $47.1 billion, ICE sponsor AB InBev offers McIntire students the chance to think deeply about the challenges and opportunities facing global businesses today.


By conducting a situational analysis, students determine strategic marketing and financial plans to transform CarMax into a truly e-commerce company. Through assessment of the Fortune 500 firm’s history, business model, and operations, as well as a thorough examination of the automotive industry and its disruptors, students develop and refine proposed solutions for further streamlining the largest used-car retailer in the United States.

Hilton Worldwide

Students are challenged with designing distinct and dynamic marketing campaigns for multiple Hilton brands with the objective of growing the company’s business among a variety of demographic groups within the United States. Recommendations must identify strategic opportunities for continued growth among existing and potential customers within an assigned demographic, taking into account key differences in consumer behaviors, values, and decision-making processes.


Students are tasked with providing Margaritaville with three interrelated, actionable recommendations for hotel, student housing, and mixed-use facilities based on projected financial returns and the expected impact on brand equity. They are also required to complete full discussions of the advantages and risks associated with all three directions by producing a report comprising strategic and market analyses, an overview and implications of a financial model, and a brand name for the student housing concept.

ICE Sponsorship FAQs

What’s the sponsor’s role?

ICE sponsor executives work closely with approximately 16 student teams, guiding them through company data and history while also facilitating their understanding of the marketplace and the relevant issues at stake. Through the process, each student team develops its own business plan, integrating their strategies across a broad swath of disciplines, to address the sponsor firm’s real-world business problem.

What’s a typical ICE project?

Most ICE projects have a current theme and are integrative, strategic and high-level. Like board members, students address a business development question or opportunity currently being grappled with by the sponsor company. Sponsors may decide to have students offer cases for either a Project A or B, or leave the project more open-ended, asking students to focus on one area of the business and make strategic recommendations. The teams conduct market analyses, do in-depth research, financial analysis, and ROI, and consider how the opportunity fits into the company’s long-term strategy — everything a company would expect when considering a new opportunity.

Who should be on the sponsor team?

ICE sponsors generally elect a sort of “relationship champion” — a person who makes decisions on behalf of the company as they pertain to the sponsorship and the project. It is often helpful to appoint a junior executive to regularly interact with the student teams as they access company data, need a sounding board for ideas, and coordinate executive involvement.

How much collaboration or interaction should we expect?

Sponsors first interact with a faculty member to identify the question they want answered — the growth opportunity or potential new business — and, with professors, share pertinent information with students throughout the semester. Communication is roughly monthly at the late-summer outset but becomes more frequent as the student teams’ presentations draw nearer.

What is the timeline for involvement in ICE?

Sponsors’ semester-long involvement in the program has a few key elements to success:

July Planning Session: An introductory meeting with the ICE faculty team members to identify the project and discuss parameters. Follow-up discussion by phone/email.
Participants: Project leader and other sponsor relevant team members

September Intro Night: An evening session on Grounds, during which representatives provide a company overview.
Participants: CEO or business unit head and/or other senior business leaders

October Project Launch: Evening session introducing project parameters to students.
Participants: Project leader and team

November Project Check-In: A meeting to respond to questions about the project either in person, by videoconference, or by conference call.
Participants: Project leader and team

December Final Presentations: Observe project presentations and participate in Q&A session over one or two days on Grounds.
Participants: Project teams, senior management, interested sponsor members, recruiters

What is the financial commitment for ICE?

ICE sponsorship requires a two-year commitment, along with a $25,000 annual contribution to the McIntire School of Commerce. In addition to the many benefits of ICE sponsorship, sponsors also receive benefits and recognition in the McIntire Corporate Partners Program.

Become an ICE Sponser

If you're interested in learning more about the range of opportunities to consult with students at McIntire, please reach out.

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