Urban Business Consulting Course

Course Description

This  6-credit course is designed for undergraduate students to allow them to apply the principles and techniques taught in the business school curriculum to real business problems faced by participating urban companies and/or organizations (client organizations). To accomplish this objective, teams of 3 – 5 students will spend the semester working on a business challenge and/or opportunity presented by one of the client organizations. Students will interact with their client company as if they were part of a professional management consulting team. This process will allow each team to apply specific technical and/or functional expertise in a real business situation while concurrently developing competence in critical consultative skills including interpersonal communications, team dynamics, problem solving and giving & receiving advice.

This unique consulting course begins with a review of the various stages and processes involved in the completion of a management-consulting project. Throughout the semester we will discuss the different aspects of consulting in general terms and focus on required skills and expertise needed to produce high-quality project deliverables. The classroom sessions will serve as group problem-solving discussions where each team will review their progress, dilemmas, accomplishments and obstacles with the class.  In addition, a few professional consultants will visit the class to discuss best practices they employ and talk about how they approach their work and manage their client relationships.

Classes begin on Monday, June 3, 2013 and end on Monday, August 5, 2013. We will hold classroom sessions twice during each week for a total of 6 hours each week. We begin each week with a 3-hour class held on Monday mornings from 9 – 12 and wrap up the week with a Debrief and Review Class held on Friday afternoons from 12 – 3. Client meeting times are held throughout the week based on each team’s goals, milestones and the time commitments/constraints of the client. It is expected that the field work (outside classroom effort) for each member of the student consulting team will total approximately 140 – 180 hours. This includes information gathering, analysis, client meetings and development of the final oral and written report.

Course Deliverables

The major deliverables for this course are:

  • Consultant Interview
  • The proposal/contract between the student team and the client
  • Milestone deliverables relative to the specific project
  • Individual Case Write-up (Midterm)
  • Final presentations (in class and for the client)
  • Final written report

Each team’s final presentation should be professional using PowerPoint or similar business software.  If your team includes spreadsheets, statistical support material or other data in your presentation, you should prepare handouts for the audience (class and/or client).

This class relies to a large extent on the independent work completed by each project team.  What you learn from this course depends heavily on the effort that you make to collaborate with your fellow students, the Client Engagement Manger (TA) and your client in the process of solving their business challenge. Our major role is to provide structure for the consulting process, provide students with insight to help you develop your own “best practices” in consulting, to monitor progress and to act as a resource and guide for each student team.