Duke Daytime MBA Student Blog
Consulting in the Classroom & in the Real World
By late January, several well known and highly regarded consulting firms descended on campus to begin identifying the newest crop of summer interns. It was exciting, and a chance to demonstrate the applicability of a semester’s worth of coursework. However, for students in Small Business Consulting and Global Consulting Practicum, two popular courses at Fuqua, one consultant’s arrival at Fuqua was more educational in nature.
Jennifer MacMillan of Deloitte Consulting has had an esteemed career in strategy consulting, and came to Fuqua to share her experience with her firm’s heralded Hypothesis Driven Consulting. She used a case study, as well as a rigorous, yet light-hearted, interactive discussion, to lend some guidance to the courses’ students, many of whom had little formal background with consulting methodologies.
While the partner organizations, whether they be small businesses or non-profits in remote parts of the world, are eternally grateful for our work, a detailed understanding of the consulting process helps guarantee efficiency and effectiveness. Being time-constrained business students, we immediately recognized the need for efficiency in our own lives, as we sought to balance the commitments to our clients with the various other demands on our time.
Hypothesis Driven Consulting represents an “approach where you formulate a potential solution before you start work—based on experience, judgment, and available information.” And, though this approach, technically speaking, was foreign to most of the people who were listening, it struck me that it shouldn’t be that difficult to adopt here at Fuqua. The teams in these courses were assembled with the goal of diversity of backgrounds, and as such, pooling together the requisite experience to have accurate judgment was only a small hurdle. Additionally, we’ve all been teamed with partner organizations who understand the value we can provide, collectively, when we have access to meaningful information.
In the end, the consulting session, as well as the courses it enhanced, demonstrated many of the fundamental characteristics of the Fuqua experience. While all the students excelled in the classroom, they found greater meaning in applying these principles beyond the walls of Fuqua. Additionally, each was seeking out the opportunity to supply leadership to those organizations most in need of it.