TCU MBAs in Consulting: A Lesson in Problem Solving

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Ethan Silvers, Sourcing Associate at A.T. Kearney

Management consulting is a highly coveted career path for many MBA candidates. Sought for the challenging responsibilities, experience across companies, travel opportunities and competitive salaries, consulting is among the most ambitious career paths.

The Neeley School at TCU has developed unique academic and experiential programs to give MBA students a competitive edge in the consulting field.  In addition to specialized coursework as part of a consulting industry emphasis, TCU MBA students develop a proven portfolio through the Neeley & Associates Consulting program.

TCU alumnus Ethan Silvers returned to school for his MBA with the intention of becoming a consultant. Prior to attending business school, Silvers worked in project management for a nonprofit, an in-house consulting role, of sorts. He added consulting experience to his resume as part of a Neeley & Associates Consulting team hired by GM Financial to conduct an industry competitive analysis. In his second year at TCU, Silvers set up his own consulting practice.

"Really nothing prepares you for consulting except consulting," he says. Silvers now works as a sourcing associate at A.T. Kearney, a management consulting firm in Chicago. 

At A.T. Kearney, Silvers is part of the procurement analytics solutions group, a sub-group under the supply chain management umbrella. His team works on strategic sourcing events and managing supply base, as well as organizational transformation and design. Silvers helps clients go to market, design a strategy and set up suppliers.

A Day in the Life

In his current role, Silvers operates in a project management capacity, working on diagnostics and interviewing stakeholders at every level. He spends his time processing data, finding solutions and making pivots based on the success of his hypotheses, while building toward a final answer to achieve savings and increase efficiency. He says it’s akin to applying the scientific method to business.

Silvers spends most of his time onsite with his clients, which means frequent travel. He’s currently working on a project with a client in Miami that requires him to spend three to four days a week in Florida. On Monday, he usually determines his plan for the week, checking in with team members and various VPs to address specific needs. His weeks seldom look the same.

Because of this, Silvers says he never gets bored. “I will do something different on every project. We’re tasked with solving problems that companies can’t.” He says he thrives on the excitement and stress of taking on a new challenge.

Preparing for the Job with the Neeley School

The ability to think critically is essential for a consultant. “Neeley’s courses helped me cultivate those skills,” says Silvers. “It’s something they infuse every course with.”

Throughout their graduate education, TCU MBA students engage in experiential learning opportunities that offer exposure to a broad range of business activities and client types. Students gain consulting and project management experience through Neeley & Associates Consulting, as well as access to professional consultants who serve on the Neeley Experiential Learning Advisory Board and act as mentors to TCU MBAs.

To students considering a transition into consulting, Silvers has this advice:

“Leverage your past experience and internship. Find experiences that challenge you to be a problem solver and critical thinker, and look for experiences you can frame as ‘consulting.’”

Silvers says consulting is one of the hardest things he will ever do, but also one of the most rewarding. "I am excited to go into work every day,” he says. “It’s an awesome feeling.”

To learn more about the Neeley School’s consulting emphasis, click here. Or, request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program.

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