From Denmark, our first ICP guest entry is by Dutch Bruno van Albada, who is working with teammates: Danish Mads Ring Damgaard, Brazilian/French Louis Lozouet, and Australian/British Matthew Costello, supported by Belgian Professor Benoît Leleux.
On-campus recruiting is over for now, classmates are flying to more than 15 different countries across the world, and that can only mean one thing: The International Consulting Projects (ICPs) have kicked off! ICPs are 7-week projects where a team of 4-5 MBAs work together to solve a strategic issue for a client, often a F500 company.
Coming from a strategy consulting background myself, it’s interesting for me to compare some of the similarities and differences between my previous job and the ICPs. My team is working on a strategic growth project for a Danish design house, and many things feel oh-so-familiar: a great team around me, lots of energy in the teamroom to feed on, and of course living out of a suitcase. Excel and Powerpoint, not lectures, once again rule my life. And I’m loving it!
Now, as much as all of this reminds me of the “good old days,” there are also many differences. Working for a smaller client, as opposed to the colossal organizations I saw before, means more hands-on work; it means more frequent interaction with the CEO, more responsibilities and fewer people to get the work done. Paradoxically, it means that we’re much more resource-constrained in what we can do, but also that we can be more bold and more daring in the suggestions we make. After all, organizations like this are run not by bureaucracy but by agility, fed not by fear but by opportunity and dreams. The world is our oyster. Or our client’s oyster, at least.
Taking this consulting approach is an awesome opportunity to take everything that we have learned in the classroom and apply it in a real-world setting. So they are not only a reflection point, but also a case study come to life, and we find ourselves already going back to our notes from Finance, Strategy and Marketing to look for frameworks to help out. Even more interesting is getting a final chance to take and apply some of the personal and leadership learnings in a safer setting. Working together with three other classmates is inspiring and motivating, but it’s also important to find a way to manage the group processes well. And as anyone who worked with the case method can attest, that is often the most challenging part of a project! In the end, our client is putting down a significant amount of money, and the pressure is on us to deliver. In that sense, the ICPs serve as a perfect transition from academia to business.
Soon, after all, we will be released back into the real world – back to real jobs and real life. It’s certainly going to be strange for the ninety of us to be once more spread around the globe rather than bundled up in beautiful Lausanne. But it’s a wonderful – and comforting – thought that even though we may not be there full-time, we will make the time to reach out, connect, and visit each-other in the future. In fact, we got things started last weekend with a pre-reunion in Copenhagen, where class- and team-mate Mads hosted 46 (!) visitors at his house for a great autumn barbeque.
A final thought: my class is already getting many messages from the lucky ones who get to follow in our footsteps, the 2018 class. To all of them reading this – enjoy next year to the fullest, and get everything from it that you can. The work, the play, and the friends for life.