Making a Mark with Spring Consulting Projects


This semester we completed seven real-world consulting assignments with four major companies – BraskemGEAlcoa, and PPG Industries.  In January each client tasked their respective student team with a real-world challenge .  After semester-long research, meetings, and prototyping the final client presentations wrapped up last week.  Each team is extremely proud of their final deliverables, and one client shared that they were left “speechless” by the group’s work.  Having the ability to sit at the table with business executives and discuss pressing issues within their industry is an educational experience that not all programs have the ability to offer.  



Bring on the Spring (Semester)!

While it may not feel like spring with the recent sub-zero temperatures, our cohort is back to the bluff to begin the spring semester.  We have a full course load with finance, economics, marketing, organizational behavior, sustainability tools, an elective of our choice and a consulting project course.

In this semester’s consulting project course our cohort has been broken up into seven teams to consult for four multinational corporations that are leaders in their industry. Two teams have been assigned to General Electric (GE), two teams to Alcoa, two teams to Braskem, and one to PPG Industries. The student teams will be meeting with clients over the next few weeks for kick-off meetings to guide the projects throughout the semester.

Now if we could only bring on the spring weather!

Paul O’Neill on Leadership

Last week, our cohort spent an hour listening to Paul O’Neill, 72nd Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and former chairman and chief executive officer of Alcoa. His speech was engaging, with a variety of illustrative personal stories.  When I left the symposium, I wanted to work for a company with a CEO like Paul.  Then I started thinking, why don’t I just do everything in my power to be a leader like Paul O’Neill?

Paul challenged us, future business leaders, to create a work culture where every person can answer “yes” to the following statements:

1. “I’m treated with dignity and respect everyday by everyone I encounter” without regard to gender, race, rank, degrees, etc.

2. “I’m given the things I need” (e.g., resources, education, training, supervision, etc.) “to make a contribution that gives meaning to my life.”

3. ” I’m recognized for what I do by someone whose opinion I care about.”

Without having heard Paul’s speech, I’m sure that you are thinking, “I want all three of those in my work life!” So what are you going to do about it? Are you going to become the manager to make the change in an organization?

I hope that in my future I am able to follow Paul’s lead and create a safe, healthy work environment.  I wanted to leave you with a video of Paul so that you can be ignited by his words too.

Professor Bill O’Rourke

Professor O'Rourke speaking at an sMBA engagement.

Professor O’Rourke speaking at an sMBA engagement.

Our cohort recently finished a course taught by Professor Bill O’Rourke on Change Management. Not only is Professor O’Rourke a facility member, he is executive director of the Beard Institute, and an active mentor for our MBA consulting project and practicum courses.

In 2011, Professor O’Rourke retired from Alcoa, where he was Vice President of Environment, Health & Safety, and Sustainability. He remains involved as a member on the Board of the Alcoa Foundation, where he teaches “Values” at Alcoa Executive Development Programs. O’Rourke earned is Juris Doctor Degree from Duquesne University, and began practicing law as a Patent Attorney at Alcoa. During his time at Alcoa, Professor O’Rourke held numerous leadership positons, including President of Alcoa-Russia from 2005-2008.