July 19, 2011
Contact: Carol Connelly, Director,
Media & Communication Services, ext. 5267, email@example.com
Front row from left to right: PNC students Scott Marks, Laura LaCasse with Michael Brown and Paul Bowker from the Birmingham City Business School. Back row: PNC students Jeff Mellen, Walt Drescher and Andy Krouse with Stephen Wilson, from the Birmingham City Business School and Alan Krabbenhoft, dean of the PNC College of Business.
PNC Students to Birmingham, England and Back
Westville – Recently, nine MBA students from Purdue University North Central took part in an eight-day “International Consultancy Project” in Birmingham, England.
This capstone learning experience was intended to give students an opportunity to utilize their academic preparation and prior work experiences as they worked to advise two companies dealing with key business decisions.
Running the consultancy project in England also exposed them to a new culture and different ways of doing business.
This opportunity evolved from a prior working relationship between Dr. Alan Krabbenhoft, dean of the PNC College of Business, and Professor Michael Brown, from Birmingham City Business School, a long-established and well-respected business school in the United Kingdom.
The nine students were grouped into two teams and each team was paired with one of two Birmingham companies – Samuel Groves and Newey and Eyre.
Samuel Groves, is a strategic business unit of the Metalrax group. It manufactures and imports utensils and cookware. It wants to build on initiatives started last year and develop a strategy to move into new markets. Its student team members were Jeff Mellen, Valparaiso; Walt Drescher, Chesterton, Christina Miller, Valparaiso; Jessica Wilson, LaCrosse and Scott Marks, Portage.
Newey and Eyre, is a strategic business unit of the French company, Rexel. Its core business is electrical wholesaling and it looked to the students to help with a strategy to enter new markets. The team included Ron Schoff, Michigan City; Andrew Krouse, Granger; Laura LaCasse, Valparaiso and Tammy Riffle-Pack, Porter.
Each group started their consultancy with a meeting with a senior member of the company. They asked questions, gathered information and did what was necessary to understand the company, its strategy and its future vision.
One group made about 150 phone calls to company clients and suppliers – including those in other countries – to better understand their company's situation.
For eight days, the students did research, they brainstormed, they pulled together information and at the end of the week they gave a presentation to their company's senior management team. After returning home, each team had three weeks to write and submit a final report to their client.
Critical in the consultancy is serving the clients' needs. The clients complimented the students' work.
Newey and Eyre CEO John Hogan commented, “I was extremely impressed by the quality of the work presented by the delegates from PNC. I was delighted that we engaged in the process and the outputs were immediately useful in helping us make important decisions regarding a new market in the UK. The acid test is whether or not I would have paid for the work that was presented. I would have happily paid for this. I would recommend this program to any business interested in receiving strategic project support.”
The students knew they would put in 14-to-18-hour days and have limited time for sight-seeing or leisure activities. While they all had to make travel arrangements and deal with the challenges of immigration and customs, some encountered other challenges - missed connections due to weather and missing luggage.
This became an untended lesson in survival as they encountered a situation that many business travelers meet, but must find a way to overcome.
Though the students worked long hours, they found time to enjoy themselves. They were invited to a formal luncheon with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham. They toured the Jaguar assembly plant and they were feted with a reception at the Birmingham Art Museum.
Despite the challenges and the long hours, the students found the consultancy highly rewarding.
Riffle-Pack said, “This was an amazing experience. We had an aggressive timeline to perform an in-depth analysis of a situation faced by a relatively large company. The collaborative nature of this project offered an intense teamwork experience that I will always value.”
As Schoff described, “This was an incredible learning experience. It encompassed a variety of theory and real-life applications in a compressed time period. It was a life experience I will always remember.”
In general, the students enjoyed the consultancy and would recommend it to other students, calling it a “life-changing experience.”
Krabbenhoft explained, “We intend to run the international consultancy again next year and would like to make “Consultancy Projects” an integral part of the MBA program. Whether conducted internationally, or within Northwest Indiana, they promote experiential learning and stretch individual learning. That cannot easily be duplicated through classroom learning. In addition, the impact of such projects on the organizations served is vital to the PNC mission.”