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Tippie MBA's Business Consulting Center Opens with First Clients

The University of Iowa's Tippie Business Solutions Center has opened for business with a debut group of clients that range from a small Iowa manufacturer to global financial services firms.

The center will give MBA students in the Tippie School of Management the opportunity to solve real business problems posed by real-life clients. It is the state's only business school-based faculty- and student-staffed consulting center.

The first six businesses that will work with the center are:

  • Broker Dealer Financial Services, a Des Moines financial services company
  • Marriott Hotel of Coralville
  • Schafer Systems, an Adair based manufacturer of scratch-off lottery ticket dispensers
  • AdTrack, a Cedar Rapids sales services company that helps clients develop and track sales leads
  • TIAA-CREF, a New York based provider of retirement planning services for people who work in higher education
  • Zurich North America, a Chicago-based financial services company

"It's a good mix of robust clients that match up well with our students' skills and career interests," said Richard Boulger, the center's director and executive-in-residence in the Tippie College of Business. He said the scope of work with each client will generally be focused on strategy development and market expansion.

About 30 students are participating in the center this spring, and Boulger said they will be expected to approach their work as professional consultants. Each project will last 12 to 15 weeks and students will write an initial planning report, define their scope of work, and update their progress through the semester.

"These are real projects and the clients are paying for the work," said Boulger. "What they will get from their investment is a team of high-energy, low-cost consultants to address their business problem, and also have access to a possible source of long-term talent."

Gary Gaeth, associate dean of the Tippie School of Management, said the students also benefit by learning how to use what they learned in the classroom to help tackle a client's real challenge.

"Our students will get to address an analytical business problem, engage with a business leader, learn the techniques of project management, and adapt their analytical and writing skills from a classroom to an on-the-job environment," he said.

The projects will all be overseen by Boulger, who retired from Accenture in 2003 after providing consulting services to Fortune 500 companies for 25 years. He also established a similar business solutions center at the University of Arizona following his retirement from Accenture.


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