Neeley & Associates Consulting 2016 Preview

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Each year, through Neeley & Associates Consulting, TCU MBA students take on the role of paid consultants for major businesses, nonprofits and community organizations to review and evaluate an opportunity, challenge or concern as part of the client’s larger strategy or operations.

Neeley & Associates’ clients hire TCU students to consult on projects the companies may not have the internal resources to handle, including developing new strategies to streamline the organization, boosting productivity in a particular sector or solving problems in a specific area of the business. Students bring their previous work experience to the table, as well as new skills and knowledge acquired during their tenure at the Neeley School of Business to produce value-added business solutions. Teams are entirely student-led and comprised of a small group of first-year students and one second-year student, who serves as Principal on the project.

Mitch Howe, MBA ’17, is a member of one of two consulting teams working with Alcon. His group will evaluate the potential value of the e-commerce marketplace for sales of Alcon products. As the projects get underway, teams assign roles to each member. Howe is serving as the internal communicator for his team, responsible for contacting assisting faculty members and communicating with his team Principal, Meghan Doman.

The role of each Principal is to secure the project, serve as team lead, help work with the company to scope the projects, communicate with the client regarding project details and deliverables and provide guidance and support to the team as needed. In addition, Principals are responsible for managing the boot camp training and team building sessions for the first-year students.

“As a Principal, our role is to lead or manage the team from behind the scenes,” explains Justin Burns, MBA ’16 and Principal on the GM Financial team. “We make sure the team is on track and the client is happy. Our main role is managing that client relationship, making sure they’re satisfied with the team’s work.”

The fact that Neeley & Associates teams are entirely student-led is a key differentiator from other schools’ programs, which are typically led by a faculty member. Companies that hire Neeley & Associates can hire faculty as subject matter experts, but the deliverables come from the student-led team.

Past and present Neeley & Associates clients include distinguished companies such as Nike, Bell Helicopter, Sabre Holdings, Ben K. Keith Foods, Lockheed Martin, Alcon, Beryl, Safe Haven, Amon G. Carter Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, Calloway’s Nursery, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Smith & Nephew Biotherapeutics, PepsiCo, Catholic Charities, Frito-Lay and more.

This year’s Neeley & Associates teams are just getting started, fresh off three boot camp sessions in January, where students learned about various aspects of project management. A team of Principals, including Meghan Doman and Justin Burns, planned and coordinated the boot camps for first-year students.

“We wanted to make sure the first-year consultants felt that this time was valuable for them and applicable to their projects,” says Doman, Principal on two Alcon projects. “Over the course of the two days, we discussed topics such as team roles and dynamics, initial kickoff meetings with the clients, project charters, the importance of project planning and leveraging the Neeley & Associates program in an internship and job search.”

Each team will work on a specified piece of the client’s business, coordinating directly with the organization’s internal product or service team. There are nine teams, including:

• Alcon Surgical Unit, Sales & Marketing Strategy — Meghan Doman, Principal
• Alcon Vision Care Unit, E-commerce Marketing Strategy —Meghan Doman, Principal
• Frito-Lay, Brand Building Strategy — John Tate, Principal
• GM Financial, Marketing Support Materials — Justin Burns, Principal
• Michaels, Process Improvement — Mario Riveros, Principal
• Oncor, Financial Valuation & Customer Satisfaction — Sidharth Rath, Principal
• Sabre, Product Portfolio Optimization — Sagar Bejalwar, Principal
• Bell Helicopter, Channel Strategy — Zach Westbrook, Principal
• Lockheed Martin, Workforce Optimization — David Kole, Principal

Not all students who participate in Neeley & Associates are planning a career in consulting. These projects provide students invaluable hands-on experience and insight into the business world that can’t be learned in the classroom. It’s a complement to the rigorous TCU MBA curriculum and representative of the experiential learning opportunities the school provides.

Each participant has his or her own expectations for the project. Howe hopes to gain first-hand marketing experience, adding another skill set to his toolbox. He’s also looking forward to getting an inside look at the healthcare industry.

“I’m really excited to be able to do this,” says Howe. “During the admissions process, Neeley & Associates was one of the big selling points. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I decided to come to TCU.”

Burns says working as a Principal gives him “an opportunity to learn and manage a project from a different perspective, in a different role. I’m diversifying my skill set and learning an aspect of business I’m not totally familiar with.”

Some students go so far as to refer to Neeley & Associates as a rite of passage for first-year students. “It’s something every alumni says you’ve got to do,” says Howe. “It’s such a great experience. It transforms your resume and gives you an opportunity to shine both individually and as a program.”

Interested in getting a TCU MBA? Request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program or apply now.

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