One of the many unique experiential learning opportunities offered here is the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP). This program allows a team of students to work as consultants on a real-world problem brought to Fuqua by a local company. Once open only to MBA students, it is now being offered to MMS students who are interested in a career as a consultant, or who would simply like to gain hands-on consulting experience.
My FCCP team
My team, like others, consisted of students from different disciplines and cultures. To ensure our work was efficient and credible, we decided to assign roles to each other. Brian, a second-year MBA student, was our engagement manager and a source of incredible motivation and guidance throughout the project. Shirley Yan, from China, who graduated in film, TV, and media, was in charge of communicating with Brian. Melike, an engineer from Turkey, was the project manager and responsible for creating a schedule with assigned tasks every week. Daniel, from Puerto Rico, who majored in business, entrepreneurship, and organization, was the assignment lead, tasked with making sure all of our submissions were turned in on time. George, from Greece, who majored in accounting and finance, was our fun captain and assistant communications lead, ensuring the team had fun even when we were fatigued from following the rigorous routines and assignments. Last but not least, I served as the communications lead and helped to maintain relations on the client side as well as internally.
There was a range of industries and sectors represented by the companies participating in FCCP including software, digital advertising, energy drinks, food products, medical devices, and smart home solutions for senior citizens. Almost all of these companies are based in Durham or the greater Triangle area so that it was easy for students to do a site visit and get better exposure to the client side.
Our client was a local digital advertising firm that has gained popularity within the real estate sector in the Triangle area over recent years. As student consultants, we were asked to gain an understanding of the vertical markets of our client’s business model and come up with two companies with a franchise-based model that would serve as potential customers to our client. From industry to sector to sub-sector to two companies, we were successful in building a decision matrix at every step using primary and secondary research. Our primary research involved interviewing with managers. And our secondary research consisted of leveraging the insightful databases that we have access to at Fuqua in order to make educated decisions for the project. Overall, our clients were delighted with our recommendation, and we were able to learn a lot from this hands-on experience.
Takeaways from the experience
First of all, time-management is key to success with FCCP. Being a student at Fuqua you’re already very busy, but taking on the project is easily manageable if you plan your schedule well in advance. Our FCCP classes were on Wednesdays when we don’t have regular classes scheduled, so that was a big help.
This experience as a student consultant helped me strengthen essential skills for consulting such as leadership and communications. To be able to propose a recommendation that is solely driven by you and your team in an extremely collaborative environment on a problem that a live company is facing is an opportunity not to miss.
I chose FCCP because I wanted to see myself working as a consultant, and having the projects solely driven by students speaks volumes about how much you can learn in the program. From preparing slides as a real and experienced consultant to meeting and maintaining relationships with clients, I saw myself growing personally and professionally. In fact, because of my FCCP experience, I am able to answer questions better in interviews or even connect with other MBA students where FCCP is a common ground. It is not always easy to manage school work and an extracurricular opportunity like this, but it is rewarding. At one point, I was leading three teams at once. Today, I look at all three of my teams and wonder if I would be missing out on my full Fuqua experience without all of them!