Tag: consulting

I was just boarding a plane, about to return to reality after an incredible study-abroad experience in Spain, when I received a message that kept my head high above the clouds passing me by. I was offered an interview at Bear Studios, a student-run strategy and development firm. I had expressed interest in the organization at the end of my freshman year.

The message asked me to prepare for a “case interview,” and I wasn’t the least bit sure of what that entailed. I had heard buzzwords tossed around in my freshman management class: consulting, strategic management, and venture, but I could only match a definition to each term. I quickly realized that the real-world applications of these concepts were exponentially more fascinating than learning their definitions in the classroom.

Bear Studios began in 2014 when Washington University students Peter Delaney (BA ’18 Global Health), Avi Felman (BS ’17 Chemical Engineering), and Will Papper (transferred to Stanford, BS ’18 Symbolic Systems), entered the niche market of start-up consulting and development assistance by leveraging student talent. Through strategy, design, technology development and accounting services, the three student entrepreneurs sought to provide start-ups with reasonably priced resources and assistance from Washington University’s talented pool of undergraduates.

Bear Studios now has two branches, located in St. Louis and Baltimore, with the St. Louis branch led by Delaney and Bill Feng (BSBA ’18 Economics & Strategy). Bear Studios is currently working on over a dozen strategy and development projects in and around the St. Louis area, as well as some projects across the nation.

One of Bear Studio’s most valuable partnerships is with the Skandalaris Center. Through this partnership, Bear Studios has formed relationships with some of its business partners and the companies that are attracted to the Center. Additionally, the Skandalaris Center has worked with Bear Studios to ensure the success of the LEAP Challenge—a tri-annual venture funding challenge in which postdoctoral researchers and innovators seek to commercialize novel research and compete for capital from industry judges. The Skandalaris Center offers LEAP competitors the opportunity to work with Bear Studios fellows to develop their venture, prepare a slide deck, and presentation materials for the LEAP Challenge.

I joined Bear Studios during the summer cycle of the LEAP Challenge. I was provided with materials to begin my case interview—tasked with the challenge of creating a slide deck with content I had gathered from research, and an executive summary that was provided.

As a novice case interviewee, I spent hours researching, even more hours compiling content for the presentation, and even more hours designing the aesthetics of the presentation. I anxiously awaited my first check-in with Feng and Delaney to see if the experience had added more to my understanding of a “case interview” than just a buzzword in my vocabulary.

Feng and Delaney were impressed, and asked if I had any questions. While I explained to them that I knew the executive summary may not have been written by a real person and was merely being used for the case interview, I asked if there was anyone I could talk with who could answer the technical questions I had about some of its content. Feng immediately got me in touch with the summary’s writer who, as it turned out, was indisputably real.

Once I hung up the phone with Feng and Delaney, I realized that this “case interview” was more than an interview—it was a project. I began to question myself and my ability to apply what I had learned in class in the “real world.” All I knew to do was apply the same dedication to the call with the client and to the remainder of my work on the project as I had applied to the initial research. And I enjoyed every moment of it.

I created the final content version of the presentation while working side-by-side with my client, asking frequently for his review and input. I began to understand the Bear Studios process and how consulting works. I sent my slide deck to another Bear Studios fellow who worked on the design of the slides. After functioning as a liaison between my client and the designer, we finalized a slide deck that looked and read beautifully. I flipped through the slides feeling proud of what I had helped create and awestruck by how much I had learned in such a short time.

I received an email a little less than two weeks later, informing me that my client had won the LEAP Challenge and had secured funding for his groundbreaking venture! I smiled ear-to-ear.

And to think it was only a case interview…

Lexi Jackson, BSBA’20, is majoring in Economics & Strategy, Political Science

Sid Sharma at Con Edison

Photo, above: Siddhartha Sharma (left) worked as an intern at Con Edison this past summer.

The only thing on my mind when I decided to pursue an MBA was to move from conventional energy to sustainable energy.

After working more than four years in conventional energy strategy division for one of the largest investment banks,  I realized that as much as I enjoy working with numbers and strategy, the carbon and environmental impact of my role on the world was not positive. At the same time, the steady growth in renewable energy sector and how alternative fuel options can have a long-term positive impact started growing on me.

Over the summer I worked with Con Edison, one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the United States. Con Edison was exploring innovative, high-impact business models for electrifying transportation, and because of its unique service territory, the company needed tailored solutions.

As a EDF Climate Corps Fellow intern at Con Edison, I came up with a three-part strategy to help provide such a solution. First, I performed broad research, providing a deep base of knowledge on the electric vehicle (EV) value chain, key players, and international best practices for EVs.

Second, I evaluated specific utility-led pilots, synthesizing the macro and sector-specific research, and created recommendations for Con Edison actions.

Finally, I created several sophisticated financial models that incorporated over 100 variables to determine first- and third-party cash flows and lifetime value. All three pieces, the foundational research, strategic analysis, and financial quantification, positioned Con Edison to make significant, positive impacts in the EV market. I was able to provide a financially viable solution that incorporates huge amount of Carbon savings that go a long way to help NYC meet the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate.

I learned a lot about working as an external consultant in a regulated industry and how to cater to various stakeholders, and I definitely attribute a lot of the credit I received for my internship to what I learned in Olin (especially from core classes like strategy, leadership, and corporate finance). The experience of delivering a such an impactful project was something that will help me in the long-term, especially considering the stakeholders were the City of New York, Con Edison, and all of the residents in utility’s territory.

Guest blogger: Siddhartha Sharma is an MBA ’17 student at Olin Business School studying within the consulting platform.

The past year has been an extremely successful year for Olin Strategy and Consulting Association, an MBA student-run and led organization aimed at developing leaders in the disciplines of consulting and strategy.

As a measure and testament to our success this year, we are happy to announce that 18 students received full time offers to join external consulting firms and 12 students received offers to intern at external consulting firms.

We are very excited to have increased the percentage of consulting offers to 13% of the MBA class. Our MBA students will be joining a variety of firms including: Accenture, Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group, ECG Management Consultants, Navigant Consulting, McKinsey & Company, and North Highland Consulting.

OSCA members with WCC advisors.

OSCA members with WCC advisors and faculty

Recently the students were able to sit down for a luncheon with some of the outstanding faculty at Olin who have previously worked in consulting firms. Students were able to gain insight on how to succeed going forward in their internships/full-time offers by hearing stories of their professors and learning about the “do’s and don’ts” of consulting.

In addition to faculty support, we were joined by our awesome  Weston Career Center (WCC) staff members who helped make the luncheon possible and have been our biggest supporters all year long.

Guest blogger: Sarah Lobo, MBA Candidate 2016, President, Olin Strategy & Consulting Association

In the past month, we have been working closely with a local startup in St. Louis called Greetabl. Greetabl produces and distributes small, beautifully designed boxes that combine the concepts of a gift and a gift-card. To date, the Greetabl team has primarily targeted consumers, and so we were tasked with designing a business-to-business (B2B) sales strategy that will help them target corporate consumers and ultimately establish recurring revenue streams. Our team consists of two Washington University undergraduates, Jude Gingo and Alan Zhang, as well as two MBA students, Shai Hatsor and Steve Hiltebeitel, and we are all very excited to be working with Greetabl and helping them advance to their next stage of growth.

We started our analysis with four goals in mind: 1) Identifying Greetabl’s primary value proposition, 2) Categorizing Greetabl’s target corporate customer segments, 3) Determining who the decision makers were for each of these segments, and 4) Analyzing the economics behind those segments. Our initial hypothesis was that Greetabl had a sustainable “WOW Factor” that would differentiate it from its competitors (traditional small gifts and cards) and that this “WOW Factor” would ultimately sell itself in a semi-viral fashion, once a good use-case was found for a corporate client.

greetabl founders Joe Fischer and Zoë Scharf at Startup Connection '14.

greetabl founders Joe Fischer and Zoë Scharf at Startup Connection ’14.

In order to test our hypothesis, we interviewed with several former and existing clients of Greetabl, inquiring how they heard of Greetabl, as well as how and why they have used this product. We had two main takeaways from these interviews: that this product could be 1) surprisingly effective marketing material, and 2) effective at acquiring and retaining first-time customers. Although this second finding was well in-line with our initial hypothesis, we believe that the first takeaway holds far more potential in achieving Greetabl’s goal of establishing predictable B2B revenue streams. Thus, we have recently shifted our focus away from the “WOW Factor” of the product and towards its effectiveness at getting across a company’s message to its customers. This is a far more sustainable value proposition that we believe will justify its premium price.

Moving forward, we will be interviewing potential clients and gauging their interest in Greetabl’s product, asking questions regarding price sensitivity, potential use-cases, and design. Based on the feedback we receive, we will move on to laying out a specific implementation plan for Greetabl to acquire and retain these business customers.

Overall, it has been a great experience consulting for a local start-up in St. Louis. As a team, we were able to connect with the startup scene in St. Louis through our visit to T-REx in September, which kicked off the class. Furthermore, the speakers who provided an overview of the entrepreneurial landscape in St. Louis were helpful in piecing together what has become a vibrant and exciting driver of development and economic opportunity for the city.

More than 60 guests joined the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) in the Knight Center  Hall Courtyard on April 30, 2015 to celebrate another successful year for the five CEL programs. The event was held in honor of the incredible service the Olin CEL students and teams put forth for community partners at home and around the globe.

End of Year CELebration

Students at the CELebration ceremony.

Twenty-eight outstanding students received recognition for their exceptional dedication, having participated in three+ CEL engagements during their time at Washington University.

Ten of these students were acknowledged for demonstrated leadership during the academic year and received a copy of How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen as a gift from CEL Director Ron King. Christensen’s book serves as a reminder to stay focused on what matters most in order to find personal and professional success in the next stage of your journey.

Learn More

The Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) is an educational center located in the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. The CEL is focused on creating innovative learning opportunities that result in meaningful impact in the business and nonprofit communities. Learn more about the CEL and its programs at olin.wustl.edu/CEL.

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