Students transcend the classroom—and the continent—to gain real-world consulting experience.
BU Questrom’s International Consulting Project (ICP) spent a week in Beijing, China in early January. The trip—a component of the for-credit course—included a consulting project partnering with China Financial Consultancy Co., Ltd. (CCAFM). Fifteen students representing Full-Time MBA, PEMBA, BU Law, and BU Engineering, participated in the course.
Here’s their journey.
Day 1: Safe. Sound. And hungry.
What’s for dinner? After a 24-hour travel from Boston to Beijing, food was the first order of business. The group celebrated with dumplings because who doesn’t like dumplings? Definitely not these “executives.”
Day 2: First Day on the Job.
CCAFM invited the students to a welcome meeting in their corporate boardroom. Here’s a look around the table:
All three cross-functional teams—Team Brand Valuation, Team Advanced Manufacturing, and Team Renewable Energy—met with their consultants to prepare their final slides for the presentations.
A quick guide to business entertaining in China.
Later that night, CCAFM hosted the groups official kick off dinner featuring Peking duck prepared all ways. Take a peek.
Day 3: Go Time.
The first of the three teams presented to the C-level executives while the rest of the group explored the city.
“I got on-the-ground experience consulting. I’ve never been a consultant. It helped me understand how consulting works, the process behind it, and how it’s viewed.”
– Jasmine Arcadia Betz, PEMBA program, Questrom
A local food market was on the day’s itinerary for some. Among the delicacies were scorpions on a stick—mmm.
Day 4: Back at It.
The final two teams presented their work to the consultants ending with a Q&A. Some presentations took over two hours with both the English and Chinese slides.
“It was great to give useful info. You really felt your value.”
– Mark S. Lipschultz, Boston University School of Law
Day 5: Nailed it.
All good things are earned. After a semester’s worth of case study analysis, and a week of hard work, the students spent the day sightseeing. After a group “photo sesh” at Tiananmen Square, a trip over to the Forbidden city, and a stop at the Great Wall, the students wound up at a farewell dinner where they feasted on authentic Chinese cuisine—family style.
More on ICP
Gregory Stoller, Senior Lecturer Strategy and Innovation, and ICP instructor says the most important component of his course is showing his students how to be professional consultants. He explains, “I force our students to become Chinese executives for the week.” And they really do. ICP students gain an actual experience of what consulting is really like, Stoller says, “with all the dings and dents that go into it.”
According to Jasmine Arcadia Betz, a Questrom PEMBA student, that’s true. “I got on-the-ground experience consulting,” says Betz.
The course is designed as a partnership with CCAFM and in some cases students begin working on their final ICP projects before the start of the semester. CCAFM consultants provide feedback along the way. “This is real-world,” Stoller says about the course, “real work for real clients.” In the world of consulting, as Stoller explains, it’s not always pretty.
For Mark S. Lipschultz, however, the final critique was very positive. He says that the firm was very engaged with his team’s project presentation. “It was great to give useful info. You really felt your value.” It turns out that his value to the consultant partner was more than he’d expected, because of the limitations that being situated in China brings logistically. He explains, “The info you get in the US, you can’t get in China. Everything is restricted over there.” Since the ICP trip, he says he’s become more sensitive and aware of other countries limitations.
“I like a very broad approach. It’s more useful to have a broader view of things.”
Michael Z. “Zack” Webster, Boston University College of Engineering
Michael Z. “Zack” Webster, the engineer of his team, chose the Questrom program because he wanted to push the envelope. He explains that the ICP trip didn’t just broaden his vantage point, it gave him a global perspective. In fact, he found more similarities between the way business is done in the US and the way business is done in China saying that, “no matter where you are, it does apply globally.”
Photo & Video credits: Jasmine Arcadia Betz, Amir Emami, Gregory Stoller, Mark S. Lipschultz