As part of the Global Fellows Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, three groups of undergraduate students got the unique opportunity to play the role of professional consultants last week, pitching real-life business solutions to an international non-profit organization. The experience is part of a course for Global Fellows – BMGT 468P “Practicum in Global Consulting” – that offers students the chance to partner directly with a global organization in an effort to develop effective and executable new business strategies.
The organization that the class has partnered with over the past few months is the Christian Care Foundation for Disabled Children (CCD-USA). CCD-USA is an organization that has been providing care and support to abandoned children with disabilities in Thailand for the past seventeen years and they came to Smith looking for students to help research new marketing and fundraising opportunities.
While the students’ work with CCD-USA will culminate in January with a trip to Thailand, three groups of students from the class gathered on October 22, 2013, to present their business proposals for the organization before a panel of alumni judges for the Global Fellows Project Plan Competition. The groups proposed a number of innovative and promising ideas for ways in which CCD-USA can enhance its marketing and fundraising efforts, including social media strategies, promotional events, corporate partnerships and website development. While all three of the groups left the judges and CCD-USA representatives impressed, a winner was eventually crowned, as the judges awarded Austin Carroll, Brittney Flack, Jonathan Matz, Colton Parker, and Stephanie Yamini of the “Rainbow Consulting Group” with the top prize. The students from the winning group will receive a travel scholarship from CIBER and the Thai American Business Study Program for their upcoming trip to Thailand.
It was clear from the reactions of those in attendance that the hard work of the Global Fellows came through in their presentations. Executive Director of CCD-USA Michon Semon expressed her gratitude for the contributions from the Smith students thus far. “The Global Fellows/CCD-USA partnership has developed into resources far beyond my expectations,” Semon said. “I look forward to hosting the group at CCD Thailand in January.”
Semon was not the only one in attendance impressed with the students’ performance. The group’s faculty adviser, Pat Cleveland, expressed her appreciation for the students’ work as well. “I was very pleased with our global fellows and impressed by their presentations,” said Cleveland following the event. “I thought their presentations reflected a very high level of professionalism and I was impressed by the quality of their proposals, which were full of great ideas for actionable recommendations on behalf of our client, CCD.”
With their proposals behind them, the Global Fellows’ work with CCD-USA is far from over. Following the competition, the three groups will meet with the CCD-USA board in the upcoming weeks to discuss implementation strategies for the most promising ideas and continue to work with the organization leading up to their trip in January.
The course is sure to provide the Global Fellows with a very unique opportunity to experience the full scope of a consulting project, from analysis to implementation. As Cleveland noted, the students “not only learn the technical analytical skills of project development, but also the process of bringing their ideas to reality--which is often beyond the scope of academic consulting projects.”
- Patrick Gillece, Smith MBA Candidate 2015, Office of Marketing Communications