Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18 and CEL marketing student associate, writes on behalf of the Center for Experiential Learning.
Through the CEL Practicum, students have the unique opportunity to consult for companies on a global scale, from startups to Fortune 50 firms.
Professional MBA student Elise Hastings and a team of student consultants recently traveled to Mumbai to meet with their CEL Practicum client, ArtO2, an independent art organization aiming to increase the awareness of contemporary art practices. Elise reflects on the consulting process her team undertook in Mumbai, and why site visits are essential to project success:
What was the biggest takeaway from consulting in-person, rather than remotely?
Elise: It was extremely important that our team understood the context of our project by meeting with our clients in person. We met with all the stakeholders involved and were able to build a relationship. They treated us with immense kindness and respect. They helped show us the rich culture of the city and prioritized hospitality. We understood that relationship building and trust was important in the business culture there, and being with the clients in person greatly facilitated these interactions. We also met with some of the people our clients served, which made it easier for us to understand the challenges and opportunities of the organization and areas we could provide support.
What unique value did your team contribute to ArtO2?
Elise: Our team has a variety of skill sets and backgrounds–including law, accounting, strategic planning, nonprofit fundraising, and social enterprise consulting. We were excited to work with a relatively younger and smaller organization like Art Oxygen, because we could play a larger role in structuring the organization for growth. With our group’s skills, we can support a lot of the strategic planning and organizational structuring that can best position ArtO2 to grow their impact and reach sustainability.
What were the most rewarding—and most challenging—aspects of working with your client?
Elise: It was a great opportunity to work with a group of passionate individuals that are attempting to bring contemporary art to Mumbai and build an arts infrastructure in a rapidly urbanizing city. We enjoyed building connections and understanding the process of creating an international consulting relationship. Although this relationship-building experience was rewarding, it was challenging to achieve. Being in a new place and cultural landscape over just a short timeframe, it was difficult to build that base of trust and understanding. Throughout this process, we enjoyed witnessing the impact of their work and learning how we as a group could help the organization grow that impact.
A special thanks to our partners at IIT Bombay, our IIT Bombay-WashU Research and Educational Academy family, and most especially, Executive MBA alumni Ravi Vishnu and Saurabh Shrivastava for their support in making this project happen.