Monday, March 23, 2015

In the Consulting Academy, working with clients builds invaluable experience

By Ellen Gartner-Phillips, MBA ‘15

Last year I was assigned to a project engagement with a local veterinary hospital. We spent the Academy Week mapping out the engagement: Meeting and building a relationship with our client, scoping the work we would be doing, laying out a project plan and timeline, and finally presenting the week’s work to the client.  It was a long process, but really set us up for success moving forward after spring break.

As a second-year student, I have the privilege of working as a Subject Matter Expert for this year’s Academy. While the first-years I am working with didn’t require a lot of guidance through their Academy Week process, it was pretty awesome to reflect back and realize how much I have learned in the short year and a half that I have been here at Kelley and with my internship at Deloitte.

The Academy Project does an excellent job of preparing students for the summer internship. For me specifically, I gained invaluable experience in the nuances of client interaction and storytelling.

Client Interaction

While my previous work involved a lot of client service, I was not familiar with formal project management and scoping.  Our client initially came to us with a list of project ideas, and we learned quickly that many of those project requests were symptoms for a more central need that should be approached first.

Figuring out how to best communicate our process, rationale, and defined scope to our client and receiving buy-in for our approach was an important takeaway for me.  Having had the client interactions we did and working with a great team, I felt much more confident going into my work last summer.

Telling a Story with Data

While the recommendations we made were supported with data supplied by our client, it was a great learning experience having to figure out how to support some of our more qualitative recommendations.

Throughout the process we received feedback from our advisors. “That sounds promising, but how do we know that’s going to work?” Having to really dig for support led us to make more refined recommendations that were in the end much more impactful for our client. There are many ways to look at data, and it is in the story that you can make an impactful and implementable solution.

I was impressed with my first-year team’s organization, thoroughness, and professionalism. I am excited to see what they will be able to deliver to their client through the course of the project.

Best of luck to this year’s Consulting Academy!


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