Working on a Company Consultancy Project is one of the highlights of ESCP’s MBA programme. Indeed, it provides students with a chance to work with companies, tackle real-world problems, and develop new skills. Two MBA students from ESCP, Ulises de los Santos and Kenza Bennani, shared their experiences of working on their respective projects and how it helped them develop crucial skills related to strategic planning, decision-making, communication, and interpersonal skills.
Work for world-known companies and innovative startups
Ulises and Kenza both had the opportunity to work on exciting projects that aligned with their professional ambitions during their MBA’s Company Consultancy Projects. Ulises worked on a sustainability and digital sobriety project for BNP Paribas with a focus on energy transition and sustainability transactions, saying that “The project was related to my professional ambition as, after completing the MBA, my next goal will be to work as an investment banker with a focus on energy transition and sustainability transactions.”
Meanwhile, Kenza worked with Pirkx, a start-up whose mission is to provide affordable health and well-being benefits to as many people as possible. Kenza was thrilled to work on a project that aligned with her passion for impactful and sustainable initiatives: “Our project was instigated and directly supervised by the founder and CEO of Pirkx, Stella Smith, who had ambitions to go beyond the UK market and provide affordable healthcare to 1 million people by 2025. Pirkx’s mission resonated with me deeply. Additionally, as someone with a background in marketing and communications, she enjoyed exploring strategy and business development in foreign markets during the project: “They already had a presence in Australia and were about to launch the platform in South Africa, but wanted now to penetrate the US Market, starting by Chicago. It was an incredible experience.”
Develop your skills in strategy and decision-making
Ulises and Kenza both agree that participating in a company consultancy project during their MBA in International Management at ESCP helped them develop skills related to strategic planning and decision-making. For example, Ulises emphasised the importance of understanding the client’s request: “In some cases, understanding the client’s request is not easy, as in all consulting work. The deliverable will vary based on the tools and info you may have.” He also mentioned making decisions and being able to adapt your deliverable to your audience, saying, “The way that you make the plan will be key: the milestones should be clearly defined from the beginning. Moreover, at the time of the final presentation, which was intended for different teams, you have to ensure that the presentation will have an impact by being understandable by most, and not only by the technical team.”
Similarly, Kenza noted that the consultancy project required the group to work together to provide the client with the necessary tools to make decisions: “The core question of the project and the one Prikx wanted us to answer was to analyse if Chicago was recommended as the first city to penetrate the US Market or not. We had, as a group, to learn to work together to provide the client with the necessary tools to make that decision while making decisions ourselves,” recalls Kenza.
Embracing diversity by working together
Both Ulises and Kenza highlight how working on a diverse team provided them with opportunities to hone their communication and interpersonal skills. Ulises explains how he had to navigate communication barriers with team members from different nationalities and backgrounds, saying, “I had to work in a team of seven people, going from engineers, to business developers to people from finance, of six different nationalities. Owning communication and interpersonal skills were key to connecting the team and having efficient planning.” Kenza also emphasises the value of working with people from different backgrounds, stating: “It was definitely a challenge to work on a project of this magnitude in such a short period and with such a diverse group, but it ultimately became one of our strengths. My team members were from Peru, India, Germany, and the USA. It was a great learning experience to work together and view each other’s takes on the projects, especially considering our equally diverse professional backgrounds.”
In addition, Kenza notes that working with a small company allowed her to directly observe the CEO’s communication and management style, which helped her develop her own skills. She says, “Not too often can we have the chance to directly exchange ideas with the founding party and CEO of a company, but Pirkx and Stella have been nothing short of extraordinarily welcoming and generous with their time and energy and being able to directly converse and observe how she interacted with the rest of her team has helped me a lot in shaping my communication and management skills.”
Kick-start your career evolution, embrace your ambition
“When it comes to gaining new experiences and skills, there’s no better way to do it than through a project related to your desired sector or function,” says Ulises. “Working in a different cultural environment can also be incredibly valuable for personal and professional growth. It was very useful for me to have an experience in a French bank to learn and to work in a different cultural environment,” he adds.
Kenza agrees, stating that “Knowing our work was important to the company made it all the more meaningful to us.” She also highlights the importance of building relationships through such experiences, noting that the connections made with Stella and her team were “immensely valuable” to her.
However, perhaps the most memorable part of the project for Kenza was the ability to adapt to unexpected situations, as evidenced by the team’s final presentation on a construction site. “This project also taught me the ability to adapt to any situation. We were invited to Pirkx’s new offices, but what we didn’t know was that it was still a construction site! I will never forget presenting with my team and Stella’s team around a construction table, juggling with two computers perched hazardously on bags and tools, sharing internet connection with our phones to connect with our tutor in the north of England and their Chicago team office in the US. It was definitely unorthodox, unplanned, and very informal, but it’s what made it ultimately such a fantastic experience and very engaging,” she recalls.
Thus, the Company Consultancy Project appears as a great way for MBA students to tackle unexpected challenges and acquire new skills directly in the field!
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