Our MBA cohort spent the first three months of the program working with startups. Each team provided their company with ideas on marketing, product positioning, go-to-market strategy, etc. Many moons have passed since we made our final presentions to the startups. Meanwhile, not only have the companies we worked for made progress, but we MBAs have also learnt so much. I personally cannot recall the number of real-life cases about multi-national corporations solving complex challenges we have studied. Learning has been continuous, both in and out of the classroom.
Now, as we near the end of the program, the International Consulting Projects (ICP) give us the opportunity to put all our learnings to practice. I am part of one of two teams who are serving a leading provider of industrial and commercial climate control solutions. Team One: Arun, Jessica, Luigi, Shruthi, and I are working on developing a SaaS strategy to add more value to our client’s customers. Team Two: Dmitry Koval, Smrita, Aijan, Chao, and Maxim is working on recommending new sales models and channels to boost revenues.
When our teams were initially announced, one thing stuck me immediately. None of us have had prior experience in our client’s industry or the geography we have been asked to focus on by the client. However, being a consultant is not about knowing it all. Instead, it is about asking those basic questions, observing the tiniest things, challenging the status quo, and quickly identifying the problem statement. To do this effectively, one needs a structured approach to breakdown a complex situation into smaller predicates and handle each one of them methodically. This is a skill that we all either acquired or bettered in the last few months during the MBA program and is already proving to be a great asset.
All my colleagues agree that there’s a stark difference in the way we are approaching these ICP projects vis-à-vis the earlier startup projects. We are more structured, targeted, and accurate in testing different hypotheses. For instance, Dmitry Koval shared how his team collected a zillion facts during the meetings with the client. They then separated the chaff from the grain, divided the task among themselves, and set out a clear plan between the team members. In my own team, we have divided the entire project into micro-sprints. We regroup for 15 minutes each morning and sometimes change the approach based on new facts that come to light.
However, it’s not all work and learning in ICP projects. We have made it fun. Our teams travelled to Denmark and Germany to meet key client stakeholders, conduct discovery workshops, identify the problem statement, and chalk out the roadmap. The travel gave us an opportunity to bond with one another, explore local places and cuisine, and cement friendships that will last our lifetimes.