This semester we completed seven real-world consulting assignments with four major companies – Braskem, GE, Alcoa, 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.
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!
Our project’s course kicked off with a design thinking simulation from IDEO and Experience Point. Our facilitator, Drew Marshall, discussed the “sweet spot” between desirability, feasibility, and viability and outlined a systematic process for observation, ideation, testing and implementation. A highlight of the design thinking workshop was the lightening round of brainstorming. This process will be useful as we begin our consulting project with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The following day, PNC’s chief marketing officer Karen Larrimer spoke to our cohort about the disciplined methodology for breakthrough innovation used at PNC. Using Target as an example, she shed light on how companies collect information and use specific data algorithms to tailor marketing to individual customer needs and wants.
One classmate, Laura, recognized the design thinking in PNC’s creation of the virtual wallet application. Karen explained that the application responds to customer shifts from brick and mortar to ATMs and on-line bill paying while providing a competitive advantage for PNC. Laura described the creation of the virtual wallet as a “win-win” because customers have more flexibility, and the bank is able to reach more customers.
It is no accident that the program hosted Karen Larrimer after our design thinking simulation with Drew Marshall. While Drew showed us the theory and application of design thinking, Karen was able to show us design thinking in practice at PNC. It’s a relief to see that we learn in the classroom is directly applicable to a business environment.