Skip to Content

Corporate Consulting

Final Presentation Conference

Our Corporate Consulting program began in 2009, known as Experiential Learning (EL), and since has provided opportunities for teams of MBA students in the second half of their programs along with graduate students in Science, Technology, and Engineering to undertake semester-long corporate consulting projects. Our program has seen more than 1,000 students from 15 colleges and schools across campus who have successfully undertaken more than 180 projects for a wide variety of client organizations.

Corporate Consulting projects are sponsored at a senior level of the client organization to ensure the team has access to the company’s people, information, and resources as well as the opportunity to present their findings to a group of senior stakeholders and decision makers. A project liaison is appointed by the client to interact with the team on a weekly basis.

The objective of all Corporate Consulting projects is to enable decision and action on the client organizations part. We follow a rigorous methodology that ensures a purposeful, comprehensive, and hypothesis-driven approach to data collection and analysis. This enables the generation of insights and recommendations that are both impactful and actionable.

How Are Projects And Student Teams Selected?

The Corporate Consulting projects are undertaken by MBA students and Science, Technology, and Engineering graduate and undergraduate 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.

How Are The Student Teams Supported?

Student teams have access to faculty in the business school and other faculty and subject matter experts across Purdue. An information specialist from our library system is assigned to each team to assist in secondary research and data collection. Throughout the semester, teams attend bi-weekly classes on topics including consulting methods, problem solving, project management, presenting and storytelling, and team development.

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.

What Makes a Great Corporate Consulting Project

  1. Real question resulting in decisions and action.
  2. Has an executive sponsor committed to the project, who will assemble senior stakeholders for the final presentation.
  3. Clients looking for a fresh perspective on an unsolved problem/opportunity, not just another opinion on an already decided course of action.
  4. Measurable outcomes/results – such as profit ability impact, revenue growth, cost reduction, customer satisfaction improvement, market share growth, etc.
  5. Corporate Consulting projects are generally focused on current operations and leveraging existing resources rather than entrepreneurial activities
  6. Lends itself to quantitative and qualitative analysis with data collected through both secondary and primary research.
  7. Appropriate for graduate student level of analysis – 2nd year MBAs and graduate students in Science, Engineering, and Technology.
  8. Project fits our Fall and Spring semester timelines of late-August to early-December and mid-January to late-April.
  9. 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).
  10. Key client representative(s) as project liaison(s) committed to spending 2-3 hours a week during the execution of the project.