Enterprise Management Consulting
Posted on: May 15th, 2013 | by: Serena Fong | no comments
Geoff Kalish, partner of global private-equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners, entertained the pitch with caution.
James W. Hutchin, an insurance-industry veteran who landed a faculty position at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, was proposing that Aquiline sign on to an experiential learning program, the Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) Practice, in which MBAs consult for paying clients.
“We pride ourselves on being a specialist investment manager, and we think that the domain knowledge we have is part of the appeal to our limited partners,” Kalish said recently at firm headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York. “The notion of utilizing MBA talent, who may or may not have any background in financial services, to do something useful for us? I was a little skeptical.”
That was 2008 – and five projects ago.
Aquiline, a $2 billion fund, now ranks among EMC’s strongest clients, one that offers a wide variety of projects for students.
“Industry partners such as Aquiline are invaluable to EMC, as they provide the access, guidance and opportunity for our students to meaningfully impact business processes and strategy,” Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat said.
In return, Aquiline and its portfolio companies receive cost-effective consultants who are enthusiastic and driven and who can leverage their student status to get results. Under the guidance of project managers, either full-time faculty or industry executives, the students work to produce professional-grade reports on issues ranging from market-entry strategies to mergers and acquisition opportunities.
“Bright. Got access to people, and in the end information, that we probably wouldn’t have on our own,” Kalish said of EMC students. “Jim’s pitch was, is and will be, I’m sure, that people talk to MBA students differently than professionals who might be gathering information from a competitive standpoint. The MBA students seem to get access to good information.”
How it began
It all started in 2008 with a Full-time MBA project, managed by Hutchin, examining the environmental insurance market and brownfield redevelopment opportunities. The four-person team presented its research findings in a comprehensive 200-page report at the end of its first semester and designed a strategy, in light of its research findings, in a 30-page scenarios report the second semester. The team also developed a 45-page business plan. The team’s project summary noted positive client feedback: “the work was commercial grade and actionable.”
Two years later, a team of International MBAs explored market-expansion opportunities for Wright Risk Management Holding Company, comprised of two subsidiaries: Wright Risk Management, a fee-service insurance agency, brokerage and consultancy arm; and WRM America Indemnity, an insurance underwriting arm.
In 2011, International MBAs consulted for Clear2Pay as it considered introducing ClearPark Payment Processing, a payment gateway service, into the U.S. market, and last year’s Aquiline-commissioned project involved identifying growth opportunities for Fidelity National Flood Insurance. The latest project, ongoing in the Spring 2013 semester, focuses on a market-entry strategy for one of Aquiline’s financial technology holdings.
Walker Tompkins, retired president and CEO of American Express Credit Corp., has more than 35 years of experience in banking, marketing, liability and money management. He oversaw both the Clear2Pay/ClearPark project and Aquiline’s current project.
Tompkins said the ClearPark assignment distinguished itself because, at the time, its focus on mobile-payment technology was brand new and ever changing.
“One week you’d decide on a strategy and the next week it basically blew you up,” he said. “Every time they reached a conclusion or thought they had a direction, they had to change again. So it was very real life. The world around you is fluid, it’s not static, and the fact that things weren’t static, it was a challenge for the students.”
Pooja Bhalla, IMBA ’11, who worked on the project, said the team had to navigate its own group dynamics while managing a relationship with a European client and ultimately deciding whether investment or a strategic closure was the best option.
“EMC is one of the most important experiences you can have at Fox because it forces you to apply everyday coursework with real clients,” said Bhalla, now a segment marketing manager at a global natural catastrophe modeling company based in Boston. “Overcoming obstacles and executing meaningful deliverables at every stage provided a sense of true achievement.”
Teammate Dominick Chillemi, IMBA ’11, saw Aquiline’s ClearPark project as his first choice because he wanted to work in private equity after graduation. He now does, and he credits his preparedness and professional success to Tompkins and Fox faculty.
“Anything that I handed in for the EMC with Walker I was much more nervous about than anything I hand in to my bosses today,” Chillemi said. “The EMC experience was harder on me than anything I do professionally. And I say that with no reservation. I literally pull out a lot of my EMC notes during projects now.”
Chillemi said EMC taught him to ask as many questions as necessary to get the information needed – and to not be afraid while doing it. “The smartest person in the room is often the one who is least concerned about looking stupid,” he said.
He also grew to appreciate the less glamorous side of consulting, describing his EMC experience through the reaction of an immigrant after reaching Ellis Island. “‘I’ve learned three things: the streets aren’t paved with gold; they aren’t paved at all; and they expect me to pave them.’ That’s exactly what it’s like being a consultant.”
- Article written by Brandon Lausch
Posted on: May 10th, 2013 | by: Serena Fong | no comments
Business is a fundamentally human endeavor – which is to say that it is both social and political. Power and influence matter, and are a critical part of the analysis of strategic opportunities.
Mapping the chain of commerce is a great way to visualize the interplay of power and influence in a series of market exchanges. To map the chain of commerce, one simply traces the flow of money backwards from the ultimate customer through the industry to suppliers, and the flow of goods and services from originators through the industry to customers. At each step along the way (the rectangles), resources and knowledge are transformed from an input into an output, and then sold across market exchanges (red circles) to the next organization in the chain.
When drawing the chain of commerce, it is important to focus on the critical flows – not the myriad possibilities – that flow through most organizations. It is also useful to think about types of firms, not specific firms. The chain of commerce offers many insights. It helps the analyst determine the boundaries of the industry, the competitors, and the critical markets. That is, one way to define an industry is simply to identify the cluster of firms that serve the same function in a chain of commerce, serve the same customers, and compete to control enough of the space to capture value effectively.
For example, in the book industry, the core publishers control packaging, editing, wholesaling and sales, but there are niche firms that specialize in each of these activities. The industry includes all of these firms, but the critical markets turn out to be the market between authors and publishers and the market between publishers and retailers. The firms that can control these can capture a disproportionate share of the resources flowing through the chain.
As the above diagram illustrates, money talks – or at least indicates who has negotiating power. But this picture is only a snapshot – one that was accurate in about 2000. Before 2000, the publisher controlled as much as $7.00 of the $10.00 paid by a reader; by 2010, the publisher’s portion was closer to $3.00. What happened?
As useful as the initial picture is, the real value of analyzing the commerce chain has to do with how power and influence evolve. There is nothing automatic or static about such a chain. Instead, external and internal forces constantly push and pull on the chain, leading to broken, rearranged and otherwise changing links. Chains evolve over time to fit specific contexts,* as do their norms, cultures, technologies and dominant players.
Thus, for nearly 100 years, the publisher controlled the chain of commerce and commanded the lion’s share of the resources flowing through it. They did this in two ways: by being the broker between authors and readers, and by providing the capital required to convert ideas and images into commodities to be bought and sold. One norm that emerged during this period was the norm that wholesalers could buy books at a steeper discount than retailers. Eventually, retailers (starting with Borders, but soon including Barnes & Noble), opened their own warehouses and demanded wholesale discounts – a battle they won once their chains grew to enough scale. This shift in power towards the retailer resulted in a wave of consolidation amongst publishers, and squeezed out the independent sales groups and wholesalers.
The struggle also opened an opportunity for a new entrant, Amazon, to open an alternative, online channel to customers. In fact, Amazon was welcomed by publishers as a lever in the struggle with the large chains – until it became so large that it began demanding even larger discounts than the retailers! Feeling the heat, retailers and publishers even tried merging – eg., Borders merged with German publisher Bertelsmann – although today, only the largest publishers, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are still standing in the US market.
But amidst the rubble are numerous small publishers, retailers, online distributors, and even packagers of new, multi-media offerings. Are these the beginnings of a new order in publishing, or mere left overs? This is where the chain of commerce tool can help.
– TL Hill, Managing Director
*To take a small example, probably as the result of geography, the norm in the UK is for the publisher to bear the cost of shipping a book from warehouse to shop, whereas in the US, the norm is for the retailer to pay the freight.
**All data in this piece is pulled directly from the records of my publishing company.
Posted on: April 25th, 2013 | by: Serena Fong | no comments
We put together a simple, short video on what Fox Management Consulting strives for.
Posted on: April 16th, 2013 | by: Serena Fong | no comments
“My final spring break of my college career was spent traveling with four other students around the world to Australia. The trip to Australia working with the undergraduate Enterprise Management Consulting was incredibly rewarding. Not only did I gain valuable cultural insight, but it enhanced the education I have received here in the classrooms at Temple University.
Myself and four others journeyed over 20 hours in the air to Adelaide, South Australia to consult for a technology start-up company funded by Flinders Partners. We spent the next two days working on our research report for our client, Clevertar Pty. Ltd. It was intense, but we were able to pull together as a team and delegate tasks in order to complete the goal.
Tuesday morning Justin LoPiccolo and I presented our research report in PowerPoint form to Flinders Partners, representatives from the university, and business executives from the Adelaide area. We received great feedback from the audience, whose main questions were ones we would later be solving in Phase 2 of our research and the strategy report.
Our next formal presentation was on Thursday. In between the scrub session and the final presentation, Justin and I spent hours rehearsing and refining our slides and speech to make sure we impressed the client. This time I spent some time networking beforehand to make myself more comfortable with the audience. The strategy worked well for calming me before presenting. The presentation could not have gone better! Justin did a fantastic job laying out the story for the client, and I presented the facts and recommendations from our research. There were no major objections to our presentation that morning.
In between all of the presentations and working on the research report – the team spent some time roaming Adelaide and seeing the sights. One night we attended the Fringe Festival at the Garden of Unearthly Delights. I attended a comedy show, and we roamed around the festival admiring the sense of community there and how wonderfully decorated the place was! Another day we spent adventuring. We saw the countryside, and went to Cleland Wildlife Park. There were kangaroos roaming around that we were able to pet and feed! We also saw wallabies, emus, tasmanian devils, and wombats. It was an amazing experience. On the way back, I even spent my layover visiting the Opera House in Sydney! An unexpected bonus sight.
Working with a real client whose business problems have not been solved yet has been an incredibly new and rewarding experience. Preparing case studies in class has always been valuable, but this semester I have had the chance to apply the concepts I learned in class towards creating a real business solution. The client has expressed gratitude and approval of the work, and hopes to work with Temple again in the future. All of the benefit gained from this project was more than can be placed on my resume because I have gained real-life experience that will improve my outlook on future situations and give me the tools to make better business decisions. There was no better way to spend my last spring break of my college career!”
Posted on: April 11th, 2013 | by: Serena Fong | no comments
This March, a Fox Enterprise Management Consulting team traveled to Adelaide Australia to present research findings to an Australian tech startup called Clevertar. This project, done in partnership with Flinders Partners, investigates possible commercialization opportunities and US market entry strategies for Clevertar’s unique technology. Here is a video by Flinders on the team’s project.
Posted on: March 1st, 2013 | by: Tyler Sagardoy | no comments
Forecasting models are not particularly great at forecasting. For models, we oversimplify the entities being modeled and the environment in which those entities reside. According to our models, the unmistakable success or demise of a project rests solely upon a handful of variable inputs. Indeed, short-term pressures, human error, and an ever-changing world be damned! So why then are models useful at all? They’re important because they help us understand tremendously the organizations being modeled. It’s one thing to skim financials and say you have a hang of an organization, but an entirely different—and much more rewarding—experience to play with those numbers.
Understanding the Organization: A Live Example
Let me give you an example of a model I recent built for Greene Street Friends School (GSFS), a 273-student pre-K-through-8 Quaker school in Philadelphia and my Fox Board Fellows placement. The scope of my fellowship is to analyze how the administration of GSFS should grow in response to the growth in total student enrollment. For the past few years, GSFS increased number of students and accommodated this increase by adding an additional class per grade, using existing facilities, and hiring an additional teacher and aide per grade. Now, as these students matriculate into the upper grades, the school needs to expand capacity in those grades. However, growth this time around is not as easy to accommodate.
Firstly, the addition of more students will put strain on a barebones administrative structure (hence my project). Secondly, GSFS is quickly approaching the limits of physical space available. The school has been eyeing properties on its block in anticipation of expansion. The question my model sought to address was whether the school could expand enrollment and purchase properties without approaching financial distress in the next five years. With my objective (and you should always build a model with some definitive purpose), I set out to plot out GSFS on paper. Imagine what follows in italics is the dialogue in my head as I create my model in Excel:
Ok, so the easiest way to build a model is to construct the income statement, which feeds into the balance sheet, which feeds into the statement of cash flows. Then what impacts the change in net assets (non-profit speak for net income)? Obviously, revenues and expenses. But what drives revenues and what drives expenses? Looking on the financial statements provided by GSFS, a vast majority of revenue comes from the families of students. The largest category of revenue is tuition, followed by the after-school program. What was the tuition this year? Alright, got that. How does tuition change from year to year? I know this from the committee meeting last week…here it is! Tuition increases are based principally on CPI inflation. That solves tuition hikes, but what about the after-school program? Shoot, I don’t have that information available, but I do know it must be contingent on the number of students and to some degree inflation. I’ll make those assumptions, but I should ask GSFS this question later.
To project revenues out five years, I need to know the amount of total students. Obviously, changes in the student body depend on the behaviors of student body matriculation on a class-by-class basis. What’s the enrollment by class? Wow! Now I see the immediacy and need for expansion: the fourth-grade class is almost twice the size of the fifth-grade! Ok, back to the model. How do classes matriculate? I should ask this later, but for now, I’ll assume only one-student leaves each class each year. As for the pre-K, how does this change? I should ask GSFS this too…
A Better Understanding
By the time I was done with my model, I could describe GSFS by an assortment of different numbers and I could discuss the implications of changes in those numbers with respect to changes in the organization. I also had a multitude of questions that I could ask employees and school committee members to really get to know the school beyond the financials. I had a better understanding of GSFS and was well on my way to developing the acumen that would help me create strong strategic insights for the school when it came time for me to make recommendations.
Oh, and I had an answer to my original question—the one that inspired my model in the first place.
Posted on: February 22nd, 2013 | by: Tyler Sagardoy | no comments
In my heart of hearts I’m a quant, a numbers guy, a math geek. Algorithms and programming are my deal. The MBA program at Fox might try to pull me in hitherto unfamiliar realms of business: human resources, marketing, operations management. But in the end, I always come back to the numbers, which is why I’d like to briefly introduce you to the greater Internet community semantic network analysis (SNA), a tool I picked up to put to use in my EMC project.
Semantic Network Theory Explained
Simply said, SNA is a tool that uses network theory to analyze text in order to manifest important meaning. SNA creates a network based on the nouns within a text then determines the most important nouns within the network. It’s a way to highlight the “gist” of a text in a short amount of time. Sometimes this “gist” is obvious to a reader, but sometimes not, and it’s this uncovering of latent themes that make SNA exciting.
SNA is communications’ and linguistics’ way of applying network theory which is where the math comes in. Networks consist of nodes which are connected to other nodes via walks. The way to get from any one node to another node is called a path. The shortest path between two nodes is called a geodesic. Because geodesics are the shortest paths, they are exceptionally useful in optimization problems and characterizing what nodes are most important in a network.
A Practical Application
Confused? Let’s illustrate network theory with the most popular network in the world—Facebook. In Facebook, people are the nodes. Your “friends” are the people you are connected to; this relationship between you and your “friends” is a walk. For me to get to you, I’ll either be connected with you directly or I will be connected to you through people who know people who know you. The relationships of the people I must use to get to you are the paths between me and you.
Let’s say I wanted to relay a message to you and I could only use Facebook Messenger. However, I can only message people I know and those people can only message those that they know. As someone who doesn’t like to disturb people when I don’t have to, I would find out how I can get my message from me to you using as few people as possible to relay it. This path, using the shortest amount of people, is the geodesic. Got it? Now back to the network theory.
One central idea in network analysis is that different nodes have different importance or power since each node relates to some various combinations of other nodes. Formally, this property of importance is called centrality. There are many different measures of centrality, one of which takes into account how things flow through nodes. Called betweenness centrality, this measure requires computing all the geodesics in a network between all nodes and then asking yourself: for the node being measured, how many geodesics run through it? The more geodesics that run through a node, the more important it is.
Referring to the Facebook analogy, if everybody sent messages to everyone else, some (unfortunate) individual would have to forward more messages than anyone since he or she would be in the shortest paths of most people. We know this individual is the most important individual in the social network, but why? Consider this: what if said individual decided to quit sending messages but didn’t tell anyone. Messages would continue to be sent to him, but would not find their intended recipients. The fact that this individual has this power makes him important.
Linking Concepts to Meaning
I’ve established that network theory is applicable for person-to-person relationships, but what about texts? How can networks analyze meaning? Texts contain sentences which contain verbs and nouns. Verbs provide context for concepts, but nouns provide the concepts, and the positioning of these concepts in text are deliberate. Every sentence except the first contains a concept that is linked to the concepts in the previous sentence. Also, every sentence contains a concept that links to the concepts in the next sentence. How these concepts link is meaning.
Since meaning is derived from the arrangement of concepts, the juxtaposition of concepts is indicative of the existence of some meaning between them, and the flow between concepts is the flow of meaning. The more meaning flows through a particular noun, the more the concept represented by that noun defines the meaning. In a semantic network, the geodesic between nouns indicates the best way two concepts are related. The more geodesics that pass through a particular noun, the more important that noun is to the meaning of the text or discourse being analyzed.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of SNA, but SNA can also be applied to pairs of words as well as being able to compare and contrast different texts by comparing the important nouns within them. All we need is just a little more math…
Posted on: August 30th, 2012 | by: James W. Hutchin | Associate Professor Strategy, Fox School of Business | Visiting Professor, University of Technology, Sydney | no comments
We are at the EMC program privileged to be working with the Business School of the University of Technology, Sydney (“UTS”) in helping develop an experiential learning model similar, but clearly not identical to, that which we have had in place at Temple for more than a decade. We are utilizing as our learning platform for a select group of Australian MBA students three strategic consulting engagements where we are committed to producing “professional grade” results for real enterprises.
We are in this new setting for our model finding again that “live” changes everything about learning business, and for the better. Case studies are an invaluable methodology for learning theory, but that is a process that will always remain incomplete until the consolidation that can only happen with carefully guided application to a real business problem takes place. We are the MBA already “rethought.”
The faculty fortunate enough to be involved in this highly collaborative effort with UTS are themselves learning from the “application” experience as respects the realities of crafting a successful strategic alliance. We know from this experience that the critical elements of actually making a partnership work include:
A shared vision, strongly held.
We both view the development of solid professional skills, in a business setting, as a mission that should be given primacy in MBA programs. Many of these skills develop best through structured interaction with a consulting client, guided by an experienced, “been there, done that” faculty member with significant real world business experience. Would you want a doctor that had never completed a residency?
Our focus is on the mission and operational excellence.
This can only happen because of the alignment of views on what we are seeking to achieve; time and resources do not have to be “spent” on revisiting strategic objectives, as those were set during the comprehensive, mutual – discovery process that led to our partnership agreement. We are thus able to hold the students, project managers and all others involved in the program to a “professional grade” standard as respects program implementation; always the hardest part of any change process.
Neither party believes, “… the way we do things here works, so that is the way it should be done everywhere”; we each have much to learn from the other.
The UTS program in Australia will benefit from our learning curve on developing and running experiential learning models of this sort, and we have already benefited from the fresh insights and meaningful improvements that can only happen when bright, engaged people doing something new work hard to help make it better. Our program in Philadelphia is stronger because of what we are doing in Australia.
We both have “flesh in the game”, and interests align.
This is a major undertaking for both schools, it has garnered significant attention both internally and externally, there would be a “cost” in not succeeding that has little to do with money, and is all about assets that are far more important to us both, reputation and brand.
We like each other.
At its roots, a strategic alliance is first and foremost a social network. We work well together because we enjoy doing so; there is a striking and palpable similarity of cultures between UTS and Temple. In our market entry analysis we explored the possibility of working with any number of universities in Australia. That the “fit” with UTS was particularly good could not have been any more obvious. These “soft”, often ill-defined assets are usually at the very heart of differentiating the partnerships in business that work and those that do not.
Our goal is to build a global consortium of MBA programs around the world incorporating an experiential learning experience as their capstone program. We could not be any prouder and happier than to have started that larger undertaking in partnership with UTS.
Posted on: July 24th, 2012 | by: Tyler Sagardoy | no comments
The fashion industry may be at the dawn of a new era with the help of Enterprise Management Consulting.
On July 16, Pickn’Tell launched its free mobile app through the Google Play Store and iPhone App Store. Intended for women ages 18 to 45, the Pickn’Tell app allows consumers to connect with friends and fashion experts, try out apparel and receive timely feedback, earn gift cards and coupons, and receive notification of sales.
While Pickn’Tell’s offering is exciting for aspiring fashionistas, it’s more so for retailers. The Pickn’Tell app is a consumer portal for a multi-facet analytics platform that allows brick-and-mortar apparel outlets to collect data on pre-sales actions and decisions. Until very recently, these outlets could only gather data after the point-of-sale. Important questions such as how long a customer took to make a decision and what garments a customer tried on prior to making a purchase could not be addressed. Now, Pickn’Tell can provide answers.
“For the retailer, [Pickn’Tell] provides the ability to bridge between the physical presence of the store and the virtual one,” said Pickn’Tell CEO Dalit Braun. “The shopping is prolonged out of the store, integrated into an m-commerce platform. It also provides the retailer the ability to build brand awareness in the social networks and collects useful aggregated information on consumers: what they tried on, what they liked, what they didn’t, etc.”
To encourage consumers to engage the platform, the company offers retailers the option to install the Pickn’Tell Interactive Mirror or Tablet. Positioned like a dressing mirror, this device interfaces with mobile devices and enables a consumer to take quality pictures of themselves, share them online, and hear what their friends have to say. However, the Interactive Mirror or Tablet is not required for the Pickn’Tell platform to function.
“Research shows the shoppers crave feedback,” said Braun. “Pickn’Tell eliminates the pain-points of shopping alone and makes any shopping excursion social.”
Based in Israel, Pickn’Tell was established last year by Braun and Asaf Lewin, both veteran technology executives. Understanding the vital need for physical, real-world boutiques to integrate the experiences of mobile social networking, Braun and Lewin sought to provide a solution. In August 2011, Pickn’Tell approached EMC to develop a strategy and business plan for entering social media and fashion markets, attracting consumer-users, acquiring retail apparel clients, and pricing.
By conducting primary research with retail apparel outlets, mining analytical data, and studying recent trends with both mobile applications and the retail apparel industry, the EMC team assigned to Pickn’Tell made several recommendations for long-term growth strategy, marketing and information management. Some recommendations—loyalty rewards and barcode scanning—are featured in Pickn’Tell’s second-generation app.
“We took the base of the recommendations and worked from them, adapting them to our understanding of the market,” said Braun. “The work done provided us with a good foresight to the value proposition and future strategy we have with our technology and that in the end our main focus will be in providing data.”
For the immediate future, Pickn’Tell will continue to promote its consumer app on its website and among fashion and mobile bloggers. In addition, the company will continue expanding its retail client base by targeting small independent boutiques in New York, Los Angeles, and the Old City District in Philadelphia. The company is currently negotiating several contracts for placement of its Interactive Mirror or Tablet.
Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business provides strategy consulting to clients in the private, public and social sectors. To find out more about EMC’s services, contact Becca Zinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Tyler Sagardoy, MBA ’13
Posted on: June 28th, 2012 | by: Fox Public Relations | no comments
This spring, students in the Fox School’s Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) Practice traveled to Rome to observe and participate in the planned expansion of an Oxfam America and United Nations World Food Programme initiative that seeks to relieve poverty and enhance food security through risk reduction.
The Fox School’s EMC program provides MBA students with a professional consulting project for a paying client under the guidance of academic instruction and an executive mentor. This year, five EMC students advised Oxfam America (OA) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on the expansion of their R4 Rural Resilience Initiative, which aims to address rural resilience against climate-related risks. The R4 Initiative seeks to provide risk-reduction tools to the world’s most vulnerable populations – those who depend on agriculture and live on less than $1 per day.
The EMC students studied OA’s pilot program, launched in Ethiopia, and the R4 Initiative’s expansion into Senegal and two additional developing countries. The team developed a five-year strategic business plan for the partners, OA and WFP, to implement and share with potential funders, as well as several other deliverables, including a research presentation, research report and R4 budget workbook.
“A large part of this was research, getting to understand micro insurance, Senegal, Africa and poverty,” said Natalie Barndt, the independent consultant who served as the EMC project manager. “There was a huge learning curve because this is not a traditional business case.”
The students presented key research findings on Senegal and the vulnerability of the country’s rural poor, and they proposed solutions and preliminary implementation considerations. Their research delved into issues including environmental factors on levels of food insecurity, poverty reduction efforts in place and current approaches for micro risk management.
After the research phases, the team put together a compelling, 388-page R4 Initiative strategic and operation plan, which provides a technical and strategic foundation for the R4 five-year plan and which will aid in the funding of the R4 Initiative. In addition, the EMC team developed a comprehensive R4 Budget Workbook.
After the team produced this extensive research and strategic plan, the partners invited Barndt and two EMC students to Rome to participate in a gathering of world leaders working to develop a detailed R4 Initiative business plan.
For the students, Barndt said, the consulting engagement, R4 strategic plan development and international exposure is invaluable.
“They get real-life experience at a very complex project with a very, very sophisticated client,” she said. “They really learn to develop the consulting story. They learn about the program, and they learn to format it in a way that tells a story that is compelling and has data and facts to back it up.”
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