Student Team Selection
The Corporate Consulting projects are undertaken by MBA students and Science, Technology, and Engineering graduate students. These students work together on project teams that require a cross-functional and interdisciplinary perspective. The projects are typically sponsored at a senior level of the sponsoring organization and address enterprise-level issues and challenges of strategic importance. Teams of 4-5 students are chosen based on a combination of interest and project fit to each work 10+ hours per week for 16 weeks on the project. These teams have an assigned librarian to assist in leveraging the $14 million annual Purdue libraries materials spend.
Benefits of Process
The project is also augmented with training in two key areas. The first is the problem solving process. The process focus is on the design of the initial project in a way which is hypothesis driven leading to well-informed conclusions and recommendations. Without the higher-level view, students and managers tend to develop one or several solutions they then try to develop supporting rationale. Unfortunately, developing solutions early causes issues with both anchoring and confirmation biases and is subject to various constraints. For example, a manager with regional responsibility tends to think about solutions within their region because this is what they know best and where they can be personally involved in the solution.
The second area of training is in team dynamics. Too often teams are formed without much thought into how the team functions during problem solving and there may be little attention to modifying behaviors which could strengthen or limit outcomes. We do a mid-point assessment and an action plan to identify those behaviors. At the end of the process, we do another assessment, which typically shows the impact of simple modifications to behaviors. We believe both the training in process and group styles helps both the clients as well as making students better managers.
Timeline and Fees
The timing for projects varies only slightly for the Spring and Fall semesters. Teams are selected in late August (Fall) or late November (Spring). There is a mid-point review of progress in mid-October or mid-March and final project presentation in early December or late May. There is a small fee of $5000 for program administration. We encourage students to get out of the building and meet with people within the client organization and other stakeholders. Students typically do an on-site midpoint review and final project presentation. These expenses are borne by the sponsoring organization.
What Makes A Great Corporate Consulting Project?
- Real question resulting in decisions and action.
- Has an executive sponsor committed to the project, who will assemble senior stakeholders for the final presentation.
- Clients looking for a fresh perspective on an unsolved problem/opportunity, not just another opinion on an already decided course of action.
- Measurable outcomes/results such as profit ability impact, revenue growth, cost reduction, customer satisfaction improvement, market share growth, etc.
- Corporate Consulting projects are generally focused on current operations and leveraging existing resources rather than entrepreneurial activities
- Lends itself to quantitative and qualitative analysis with data collected through both secondary and primary research.
- Appropriate for graduate student level of analysis - 2nd year MBAs and graduate students in Science, Engineering, and Technology.
- Project fits our Fall and Spring semester timelines of late-August to early-December and mid-January to late-April.
- Reasonable scope for a 3-4 month project by a 5 member student team each putting in about 10 hours per week (600-700 hours).
- Key client representative(s) as project liaison(s) committed to spending 2-3 hours a week during the execution of the project.