The Tippie MBA Business Solutions Center team has begun recruiting clients for Spring 2011 projects! Let our MBA consultant teams produce solutions for your business challenges through highly analytical and cross-functional strategic business consulting. Learn more in this issue's spotlight on our work with Transamerica Capital Management, featuring insight from the client, students, and alumni.
Overview: Transamerica Capital Management (TCM), a business unit of Transamerica Life Insurance Company, an AEGON company, offers innovative financial services and products with the goal of helping their customers build and protect their assets. TCM worked with a team of Tippie MBAs to identify potential markets and tactics to sell financial products directly to consumers.
Scope of Work: The team analyzed potential competitors thoroughly, researched relevant industry advertising strategies, identified and evaluated opportunities to market directly to consumers, and developed a “go-to-market” strategy. This strategy included a market analysis, market segmentation, risk assessment, financial forecasting, and media strategy and costs.
Outcome: The Tippie team recommended several tactics to target the consumer directly, including a group of marketing initiatives which top executives found valuable across multiple units of TCM.
by Rob Johnston, Assistant Vice President, Life Product Operations, Transamerican Life and Protection*
"As a graduate of the Tippie MBA program in 2009, I had the opportunity to participate in two strategic business consulting projects, as well as support the program as a client while working with Transamerica Capital Management. I was recently named Assistant Vice President of Life Product Operations for Transamerica Life and Protection, an AEGON Company. In this new role, I support the product development and delivery process for all product lines within our life division. My primary focus is maximizing supporting product development processes while delivering high quality solutions to our valued distribution partners and customers. Prior to working in the Life Product Operations division, I was a member of AEGON's Leadership Development Program.
From my perspective as a student consultant, the strategic business consulting experiences were extremely positive and provided the opportunity to work on real business issues while utilizing, and challenging, my MBA coursework. Being able to apply the skills and techniques I developed as a student was highly rewarding. The most impactful lessons learned were to remain flexible, expect change, and understand the importance of communication, as well as the need for clear and well defined expectations.
I was most surprised by the investment the clients made in the project and their accessibility. Both projects had great sponsors and were very well supported from all levels of management. Our ideas where evaluated and challenged as if we were part of their core management team. This level of investment and support was invaluable for the projects' success.
As a member of AEGON Corporation's Leadership Development Program after graduating from Tippie, I worked with 2008 Tippie alumni, Chuck Mersch, to facilitate a partnership between Tippie's Business Solutions Center and Transamerica Capital Management. We recognized a need to complete a critical project that lacked internal resources and knew that Tippie's MBA student consultants would bring MBA-level analytical and critical thinking talent at a very low cost. Not only was the project valuable to the division of AEGON, we were able to use the results across multiple business divisions. In addition, we had a chance to evaluate MBA candidates for potential internship and job opportunities. Recruiting and supporting this project helped increase my exposure to senior management, but even more rewarding, I was able to support my alma mater at the corporate level."
* The Transamerica Life & Protection division includes business operations of affiliated AEGON companies offering life and health insurance and financial products
Real Work: "I am hesitant to call Strategic Business Consulting a class, because it is a project and the closest one can get to actual work during an MBA. It's fun to learn about different firms and industries and provide them with new answers to tough problems. The coolest experience was sitting across from C-level executives and sparring with them about our ideas. We would challenge their opinions and then they would challenge us. That kind of experience doesn't happen every day and certainly not in the classroom."
—Miles Kirkpatrick, Digital/Social Media Manager, Sears Holdings Corporation
Tippie MBA 2010
Impact: "The experienced team leaders and BSC staff really pushed me to go above and beyond what I thought I was capable of. My personal growth and confidence has proven to be invaluable in my other coursework and internship, and will continue to be in my future experiences. I've learned what leading a team looks like, and how many of my personal strengths play well into this type of role. In addition, I've learned how to dissect information to find what is relevant to the project scope and present it in a concise, informative, and useful way."
—Gabriella Ives, Tippie MBA 2011
Strategic Business Consulting at The University of Iowa’s Business Solutions Center (BSC) is a unique consultancy experience among Tippie Full-time MBA students and leading companies around the country. Cross-functional teams of MBA students work with business professionals on real-world business problems under the guidance of the BSC directors, Rich Boulger who is a former Accenture partner and Shannon Juergens.
Companies are assigned a team of 4 to 7 MBA students with diverse backgrounds in finance, marketing, technology, strategy, and innovation to work remotely on highly analytical projects defined by the company over a 17-week period. Weekly status meetings are held throughout with the client, MBA team, and directors, in addition to formal midpoint and final presentations.
The BSC provides companies with access to state of the art analytical talent at a very low cost, and allows them to "test drive" a group of students prior to internship or employment decisions. In addition, students are able to apply theories to real-world settings, which grounds education in reality, where real learning can happen.