College of Business > News & Events > "Lessons in Consulting" series Highlights Real-World Class Projects
By Jaclyn Lansbery /
September 3, 2021 /
Posted in: Students /
Project management and consulting are two fields that offer tremendous opportunities for business students. Demand for project managers is expected to grow by 33% through 2027, according to a Project Management Institute
report, and 95% of consulting sector recruiters expect to hire MBA graduates this year, according to a
Graduate Management Admission Council survey.
The Driehaus College of Business prepares students for these roles by providing experiential learning opportunities involving well-known brands and organizations. To showcase the value of these real-world class projects, we’re highlighting our students’ consulting and project management experiences through a new ongoing series called “Lessons in Consulting.” Below we profile two students and one new graduate who worked on projects in collaboration with Hershey’s, the Premier League of English football and United Airlines.
About my consulting project:
I’ve been lucky to have been a part of several consulting projects during my time at DePaul, but the one that stands out the most was my most recent one for Shopper Insights & Marketing (MKT 398). Members from Hershey’s and Circle K presented to our class about the decrease in sales in the gum/mint category since COVID hit. The category was already declining slightly before the pandemic, but it took a big hit due to being a product that was more times than not an impulse purchase. With people spending less time in stores and relying more on curbside pickup, sales were down drastically. Our assignment was to analyze the insights given to us from both companies and to create a campaign to drive sales back to gum/mints.
What I learned from my project experience:
While I had learned the importance of teamwork before this project, this project highlighted how important different perspectives are and how beneficial it can be to meet and brainstorm your ideas together. We all had some great ideas, but then when we met the first time to present them to each other, we were able to build those ideas up and into what ended up being our final recommendations.
In the Effective Business Communication class that I took at DePaul we talked about the
“yes, and” process that is used in improv and how great it can be for working on projects. This was one of the projects where I feel like that was a natural part of our brainstorming process and we ended up presenting a campaign that we were all incredibly proud to have worked on.
Why project management skills matter:
It’s important to have these skills if you are someone who wants to move into a management position at some point in your career. Also, being able to balance multiple projects while ensuring that each one is progressing along as expected is an extremely valuable skill.
During my spring break this past year, I had the amazing opportunity to take part in a consulting project with the Premier League (the top English football league) as part of (Sports Business Program Director) Andy Clark's ICS 395: Business of Sports in London virtual study abroad program. Even though the program was in a remote format with the continued travel restrictions due to the pandemic, this was still an extremely valuable experience.
The Premier League asked us to research companies that are making strides in the areas of diversity and inclusion efforts and to outline actionable steps that the league could implement to achieve these goals. The Premier League has recently made a push for their executive employees to reflect the same diverse backgrounds that their players represent. Each group in our class researched anywhere from four to six companies that have established plans for integrating more diverse employees at an executive level. My group researched JP Morgan Chase, Target, the NFL, the NHL, and the Chicago Blackhawks. Our group found that anti-racism training, top-down integration initiatives, and education opportunities were the most beneficial in creating diverse workforces.
What I learned from my project experience:
This project was extremely relevant and timely because of the continued dialogue in the U.S. about diversity and inclusion in our workforce as well. It also meant a lot to me personally as I look to enter the sports sector which is a typically male-dominated field. It is important to me to find a team or sports organization that is committed to including both women and minorities like the Premier League is.
To become a better project manager, you need to have a clear understanding of what your client needs; that you offer them a detailed plan to get to their end goal; and that you spend extra time going in-depth in the necessary research for the project. In my consulting projects for Professor Clark's class, all of my various teams spent a lot of time making sure that we understood what our client was looking for from us. Whether that was research on other brands, information on what comparable companies were doing to solve a specific problem, or well-thought-out action plans, our team always made sure that we were meeting the needs that our client had set forth. Once we understood where our client wanted to go with the project, it was important to us that we offered a detailed plan of how to get to their end goal.
By writing out the steps on how to get to the goal, the client has a better idea of how to implement the research or ideas that we are providing for them. This helps the client see how they are going to achieve their goal and it puts their ideas into actionable steps.
Project management/consulting skills are extremely important for my field of sports management. This is a field where you are going to be working with
various clients, customers and coworkers, and it is important to gain experience being in situations where you are working for someone else and trying to help them achieve their goal. If you are going into the field of sports, all of these experiences are crucial to understanding
how various sports organizations work and what issues that they are currently trying to manage or change about their current landscape. I had the opportunity to help various teams with brand awareness, diversity and inclusion efforts, and marketing ideas for future events.
These experiences gave me a great idea of what to expect when working in the sports sector. As a graduating college student, I feel like I have some real-world experience that stands out on my résumé and that gives me a leg up on other applicants. These experiences give me the confidence to walk into an interview with the knowledge that I have gotten a taste of the areas that sports teams are trying to stay competitive in.
During the winter quarter, I took a consulting skills class taught by
Associate Professor Jaclyn Jensen. As part of a team-based project throughout the class, I worked with the Global Learning Team within United Airlines, which was a tremendous opportunity. I was very fortunate to be part of a class group that communicated so well. We were able to lean into one another’s strengths and to build a strong rapport with our clients in United.
Our goal was to explore what made an employee a good team member. We interviewed several senior-level directors with 30-plus years of experience at United, and asked them what made their teams successful. These directors have experiences ranging from labor negotiations, third-party contracting for plane maintenance, airport operations and cargo training to worldwide training delivery. These interviews were just as much of a learning tool for us as it may have been for them. Working with United on something they could buy into and be proud of in a very collaborative environment was key to the success of this project.
This experience has taught me how important it is to build a strong rapport with your clients, and that consulting really feels like business therapy. I believe that rapport gives you the ability to ask tough questions when you need to, or conversely ask them to educate you a bit more on something they may find is second nature without the feeling of embarrassment. Additionally, making sure you’re really listening to what your client is saying, even empathizing with them, allows you to ask the right questions to get to the root issue. This is why it feels so much like business therapy when it’s happening.
Project management and consulting skills are very important in the
strategy and decision-making field. While it’s important to successfully tackle a problem with all of the evidence and information available, efficient consultants ask great questions and will continue to clarify until the root issue is exposed. For example, while working with United, our team kept in-depth records while conducting several high-level interviews. These in-depth records allowed us to look for commonalities through all of the interviews. As our team presented our findings, we were able to leverage our project management and consulting skills to not only complete a successful delivery of a project, but to align with the business strategies of United as a whole.