Rajat Nepal contributed this blog post. He is a junior in the Business + Computer Science Joint Degree Program at WashU, focusing on business analytics.
As a part of CELect Barcelona, we had the chance to collaborate directly with a start-up through a semester-long consulting project. We had the rare opportunity to have a considerable influence on a growing organization’s future. CELect Barcelona has been my favorite class through Olin Business School. This is for a few key reasons: experiential learning, working in a diverse team and cultural excursions.
No other class I have taken as a Business + Computer Science undergraduate has allowed me to do impactful work where I can see real-world results. Rather than case competitions for fictional companies or analysis of past business problems, I was able to interact with an actual client facing pressing issues.
Our team was tasked with helping Dost AI Solutions, a B2B intelligent document processing start-up based in Barcelona, Spain. Dost asked us to help formulate a marketing plan for entering the United States as a Software as a Service (SaaS) company. Our team analyzed the United States market based on target demographics, competitive analysis and product audits. We communicated consistently with our clients to provide an in-depth solution to their problems.
Working with a start-up meant we had to be agile with our solutions. Start-ups move quickly and can go in a new direction at a moment’s notice. As such, our strategy evolved and changed with every new piece of communication we received. This was the experiential learning that other Olin classes just could not provide.
Working in a diverse team
CELect Barcelona was unique because most students were graduate students from various parts of WashU. Our team consisted of undergraduates, Olin graduate students and McKelvey graduate students. As a Business + Computer Science undergraduate student, I have been in many groups for different courses, but not with graduate students. Furthermore, half of our team consisted of international students.
As a part of the course, all students had the opportunity to meet with clients in-person in Barcelona. As a part of our trip, we took part in many cultural immersions. We went to major architectural landmarks such as La Sagrada Familia, start-up scenes in Barcelona such as B-Combinator, and we partook in local experiences such as an FC Barcelona game. As someone who had never been to Europe, these excursions allowed me to understand the start-up scene in Barcelona. Spending a week with our clients, team and other students also increased team synergy. Our team got much closer, both socially and professionally, due to the cultural excursions we did together
Overall, when combining these three aspects of the course, I felt like our team could deliver the best possible solution to our client. I felt like we genuinely impacted a new start-up trying to succeed amidst a global recession. We provided solutions in an agile way while working effectively on a diverse team.
Even though I do not plan on going into the consulting industry, I hope to use what I learned from this class in my professional life after college. I will certainly work on diverse teams with diverse backgrounds in the future and hope to use the teamwork skills I learned through the class for those teams.
On a more social level, I hope to use the cultural excursions that were part of this course to further myself as a global citizen. What made me choose Olin in the first place was the emphasis on global studies. I am very pleased with this course, what it stands for and the valuable experiences it provided.
Photo: Students in Barcelona. The author is on the right, with glasses.