Applied Learning at BC: The Consulting Project

As part of our emphasis on applied learning, Boston College’s MBA students participate in active partnerships with external clients in their second semester. Under the direction of faculty advisor, Scott McDermott, and second-year student consultants, teams of students meet with clients to address symptoms and root causes of problems, define scopes, and develop plans to resolve issues and achieve measurable results.

Zach Hussain, MBA'15Zach Hussain, of the class of 2015, completed a project for a large global insurance company in his first year, and returned as a second-year consultant. Here’s how he describes his experience:

How did the BC MBA curriculum prepare you for the consulting project?

The BC MBA curriculum did an excellent job preparing me for the consulting project. By providing a diversity of the core classes during the first semester, I was able to immediately apply my in classroom knowledge to a real business. Furthermore, BC provided additional resources ranging from the in classroom component of the consulting class to professors and secondary resources. Overall, it was an excellent experience being able to contribute and tackle business challenges with real world implications.

What did you learn about working in teams and/or with clients?

While confronting business challenges, finding solutions, and applying my academic knowledge were all high points of the consulting experience, I would say that working with teams and managing client relationships were the most impactful parts of the course.

During the consulting project, my team and I learned how to leverage each other’s strengths in order to provide meaningful recommendations to the business challenges we were presented with. Additionally, we learned how to meet, manage, and deliver on client expectations. Finally, it was a wonderful networking opportunity where I was able to develop friendships with a variety of individuals at the company.

What was most compelling experience you had in consulting to a client? ​

One experience that stands out was presenting our final recommendations to the client. While we had already met with many of our contacts, the final presentation was the first time we were presenting our recommendations to the head of the division. While we were nervous, our team did an excellent job and managed to impress this individual.

What was the greatest takeaway or skill you either developed or refined?​

The entire experience was filled with learning; however, there are two key takeaways that I think will have the most impact as I move forward in my career. The first is developing, maintaining, and strengthening team dynamics to become a high-performing team. I was very fortunate to be part of a very strong team that was able to tackle our business challenge. The second is networking within organizations in order to achieve results. Due to its large size, it was imperative that our team was able to network across the organization to ensure that our recommendations were realistic and implementable.

What was your team’s greatest success or high point?

While providing value to our client was a high point, the greatest success we achieved was becoming a high-performing team. By the end of the semester, the team was able to deliver a higher quality product than just the sum of our individual parts. Reflecting on the experience, this was by far the highlight of the entire course, becoming close friends with my teammates.

What particular strength did you bring to the project? ​What was a highlight of the consulting engagement?

With a mathematics undergraduate degree and analytics focus, my greatest contributions were in developing models and running quantitative analysis. In addition, I had the opportunity to be the team’s communication lead where I managed the communication with the client.

How did the consulting project enhance your MBA experience at BC?

The consulting project allowed me to immediately apply and solidify my classroom knowledge to a real business. I was able to utilize and further enhance certain skill sets ranging from the quantitative to the qualitative. By having the ability to apply these skills and attributes during the first year, I was able to operate on a much more complex level during my summer internship!

What did your role as a second-year consultant entail?

Boston College gave me the opportunity to participate in the second-year consultant program where I had the privilege to help run the first-year consulting project experience. As a second-year consultant, I was able to contribute to both managing client relations, first-year teams, and developing the academic course component of the experience. This provided great learning opportunities, and allowed me to give back to the school. I felt well prepared after going through the experience last year and really enjoyed interacting with various clients and first-year teams.

How did the second-year consulting experience enhance your MBA experience at BC?

My experience as a second-year consultant really gave me a deep insight into project management, leadership, and team and client management skills. I had the opportunity to help run and evaluate four teams with four distinct clients. Interacting with these teams and clients, I was able to not only learn about various businesses, but also the finer points of helping teams set, track, and achieve deliverables.