Business Solutions Center

Summer 2010 Newsletter

Tippie MBA Strategic Business Consulting
Summer 2010 Newsletter - Project Results

Another semester has passed and the Tippie MBA students have completed 11 Strategic Business Consulting projects, including analysis of business strategy, market entry & expansion, profitability improvement, and much more. Read further for more details on Spring 2010 projects, alumni impact, and how to get involved!

Project Spotlight: Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind or Visually Impaired - Making the World a Better Place

The Chicago Lighthouse is a not-for-profit organization in Chicago that's been a trendsetter for over 100 years, providing programs and opportunities for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Chicago Light House project teamUnemployment is a pervasive problem among the blind, affecting upwards of 70% of the adult blind community. A lack of independence is a core issue of that problem. The Tippie consulting team spearheaded a project with Chicago Lighthouse to provide assistive GPS-enabled cell phones to blind and visually impaired children throughout the state of Illinois.

The project sought to enable freedom, independence, and self-reliance in blind and visually impaired children from an early age.

Scope of Work – The project work included:

  • Market assessment of available software technology and GPS-enabled cell phones
  • Cost analysis of the devices
  • Funding research including several RFP's to government, corporate, foundation, and in-kind donors
  • Demographic analysis of the youth blind and visually impaired community in Illinois

Outcome The project outcomes included:

  • A final recommendation of the necessary devices needed to meet population's needs
  • A vetted list of high-potential funding sources
  • A report detailing the needs and preferences around the care and training of children who are blind or visually impaired on the assistive GPS enabled devices
  • A communication and training strategy around project rollout
  • Recommendations around long term success metrics
  • Concise list of best "next steps" for maximum "plug and play" capability

See the news release: UI MBA Students Help with Plan to Provide Blind Chicago Kids with GPS Devices

Perspectives: MBA Student Consultants

Diverse Team: "Above and beyond our team's success, the more gratifying part is that we have contributed, however slightly, in helping blind kids lead a better life. With a team made up of a techie, former Navy sailor, financial analyst, not-for-profit marketing director, and an individual with influence all the way up to the Oval Office, finding the right person for a task was never difficult. This experience has helped me understand what it's like working for a not-for-profit organization, introduced me to the world of fundraising, and given me experience working with a highly skilled and diverse team."

Sham Prasad, Tippie MBA Consultant 2010

Impact: "I have derived life-long lessons about the blind community and about working with others to achieve something grand. Individuals who are blind and visually impaired are just as capable as everyone else, if not more so."

Tara From, Tippie MBA Consultant 2010

About the Business Solutions Center

Rich Boulger giving a presentationStrategic 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 Rich Boulger and Shannon Juergens, directors of the BSC.

Companies are assigned 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 16-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 price 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.

Contact us to learn how to become involved!

Perspectives: A Tippie Alum on His Consulting Experience

by Eliot Weiner, Public Sector General Manager, United Stationers

Eliot WeinerMy two corporate engagements with the BSC allowed me the opportunity to take an undefined issue and transform it into a comprehensive yet palatable set of solutions, all while building a foundational set of consultative skills that have proved invaluable in my post-MBA career.

I currently manage our Public Sector programs and Competency Center at United Stationers in Chicago. The competency center supports disadvantaged businesses growing through the multiple channels of the Public Sector arena. We provide everything from consultative support and strategic response guidance to RFPs and bid-specific pricing driven by negotiating better COGs. We also leverage our current best of breed logistics and IT platforms.

My experiences at the BSC gave me comfort leading projects without having a significant level of knowledge in the subject matter. By leveraging the BSC processes through a distinct set of project tasks and timelines, Tippie students develop into subject matter experts with the ability provide creative solutions. This comfort level of tackling uncertainty has opened doors for me to lead projects that would not be accessible to most MBA graduates.

My advice to future Tippie MBAs: Focus on the big picture and remain entrenched in the process of consistent progression. Leading a project my second year helped build fundamental managerial skills that has helped me manage my team. Managing type-A MBAs was a wonderful learning experience.

Thank You to Our Spring 2010 Project Clients

Rockwell Collins Eaton Hydraulics Compleware
Strategic analysis on implications of the convergence of manned and unmanned flight in common airspace Project 1: Profitability improvement analysis based on commodity spend codification and segmentation
Project 2: Analysis of sales discounts across market segments

Project 1: Due diligence analysis for global market expansion
Project 2: Market potential/analysis of advanced technology

iPrism Global University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics AEGON/Transamerica Capital Management
Market entry strategy analysis Market expansion analysis Market analysis for a direct marketing campaign
The Chicago Lighthouse Best Buy Don Hummer Trucking
Bundling & display of technology for blind/low vision individuals; GPS enabled cell phone devices Ideation & strategic analysis for potential business model expansion Corporate financial analysis & profitability analysis