MBA Consultancy Challenge – Dominic Roberts

Whilst the MBA has contained a variety of great experiences, one of the highlights has been the Consultancy Challenge.

The Challenge was run over a 5 week period with the class split into 10 teams of 4-5 people, with the idea being that each group would be working with a client on a real consulting case. This was our second exposure to client work, after our previous consultancy work on the Entrepreneurial Module. This time the challenges were a bit different, as at that time we were working with a small business and this time with a medium-sized or multinational business.

Our group was fortunate to be allocated BAE Systems – Submarines as a client, the manufacturer of the Royal Navy’s Submarines, and we were excited to work with such a large and important company.

The first week was focused on preparation. We had lectures and training from Dr. Radka Newton and Professor David Pettifer as well as guests from different consulting companies to give us different angles to consulting. The aim of which to bring us up to scratch with the approach taken by consulting companies and the professional standards required.  This also included Design Thinking based at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA), which introduced us to creative ways of thinking, approaching and solving problems.

Our client set us a challenging project which meant we needed to work with multiple stakeholders across several areas of the business and which meant travelling to several sites. We spent the first week of the project just trying to grapple with the challenge that had been set for us.

At times we were overwhelmed, working with different demands from different stakeholders and not knowing where to focus on exactly, luckily with David as our mentor we were able to gain better clarity and focus. We delivered the final presentation and report last week

A key piece of learning is assessing whether we are addressing what the client really wants, and if so, does our work actually answer the question. It is very easy to get the first part wrong and make assumptions, and even if you get the first part correct then the second part, the solution, may not match those needs. To get this right requires questioning throughout and then working effectively as a team to deliver the solution.

Overall, this was a demanding project where we needed to pool all of our experiences both during our MBA and our working experience, our team had a mix of experience in Engineering, IT, HR and Training, in order to complete the project.

In July our class will be moving to London to take part in a larger Corporate Challenge over 9 weeks and I am hoping that I can take the lessons that I learnt in this module and build upon these for this final project.