TCU MBAs Gain Wisdom, Support from NELAB Advisors

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Neeley Experiential Learning Advisory Board

The TCU MBA program is rigorous, no doubt, but students aren’t without a wealth of resources to help them on their journey through the Neeley School. And students who choose to take on a Neeley & Associates Consulting project have an additional resource at their fingertips — the Neeley Experiential Learning Advisory Board (NELAB).

Through NELAB, Neeley & Associates principals and consulting teams are matched with corporate mentors who act as advisors through the duration of the students’ projects. Chris Ammann, partner at KPMG LLP; Kelly Herod, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP; and David Coburn, managing director for client delivery at Accenture, are three of the ten NELAB advisors working with Neeley & Associates teams this year.

At the launch of the project, the advisors review the students’ charters to “support scoping the work and planning the project,” Herod explains. The advisors primarily work with the principals, who are second-year MBA students responsible for leading the consulting team. “My interaction with the principal can range from advisor for work execution or issues resolution to a reviewer for quality and thoroughness of the team’s work product.” Advisors do not interact with the clients directly.

Ammann sees his role as an advisor as one to help shape principals into better leaders and mold first-year students into quality consultants. “I do that through conversations, asking questions and providing guidance,” he says. But it doesn’t stop there. Advisors often make themselves available to students for additional career coaching and guidance when requested.

“The important part of my role as an advisor isn’t to provide the students answers; my responsibility to ask them questions and point them in the right direction so that they can do the work,” Ammann explains. “As a coach, I’m trying to draw knowledge and motivation out of them.”

NELAB advisors recognize the value Neeley & Associates Consulting provides students. “This program gives Neeley students consulting and business experience that will be invaluable for their careers whether they aspire to a career with a consulting firm or a leadership position within an organization,” says Herod. “The students gain experience in building client relationships, planning and executing a project, problem-solving and how to work as effective teams. These are all skills that are discussed in an MBA program, but it is through the real-life application through NELAB that gives the students a competitive advantage.”

The NELAB experience is truly unique to TCU. “I don’t know of any other program that supplements the experience with coaches and advisors with such a wide range of real-world consulting experience,” Coburn says.

Ammann, Herod and Coburn say they enjoy working with the high-caliber students in the Neeley & Associates program. Ammann says he is impressed with the students’ “motivation, their depth of knowledge, their desire to learn, their ability to perform critical thinking through the problem-solving process and, most importantly, their capability to process information to provide good, solid solutions for their clients.”

“These students really care and really want to learn,” says Coburn. “They demonstrate that through the actions they take after we provide them coaching. You can see that they are listening to us and adapting our advice and recommendations to their individual situation.”

NELAB advisors volunteer their own time for students but feel it is time well spent. “The high-talent students I have had the opportunity to meet and work with energizes me,” says Herod. “These are our future business leaders and my future colleagues. I am always excited to see the careers they pursue and welcome the opportunity to help in any way I can.”

Coburn, who has been at Accenture for almost 35 years, says he enjoys seeing the students develop in their careers. “Stewardship is a core value at Accenture and one of my core values. I really view my involvement with NELAB as an extension of stewardship. I just really enjoy sharing my experiences with the students. Who else wouldn’t love to go talk about what they’ve spent their life doing?”

These advisors agree that NELAB is a way for them to pay it forward. “There have been others in the past who have provided me valuable mentoring and coaching, and I’d like to pay that back,” says Ammann. “From a business perspective, it’s important to invest in the next generation of leaders, and I’d rather do that sooner than later.”

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

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