Management students offer free consulting to community

More than 100 Bachelor of Management students from UBC's Okanagan campus have provided free consultation services to 34 small businesses and non-profit organizations in the community over the past few months.

The Management Student Consulting Project (MSCP), a required fourth-year course, aims to strengthen ties between the business community and the university while providing students with the chance to apply their academic knowledge to real-life business situations.

"It's also a way for management students to give something back to the business community, whose support for our students comes in many different forms," says Ian Stuart, professor of supply chain management and MSCP course coordinator. "As well, it gives employers access to bright, enthusiastic, dedicated and energetic individuals who are nearing the end of their degree program."

The MSCP provides a wide-range of consultation services in almost all aspects of business. Depending on the project, student consultants conduct research, perform market studies, analyze financial data, and brainstorm to provide a workable solution to a business challenge. A final formal presentation is delivered at the conclusion of the project, along with a written report detailing the students' findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Jamie Moran, a fourth-year Management student, was part of a student group that worked with the United Way Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen to expand their current donor base from large national corporations and individuals to local small businesses.

"Our group conducted interviews with local small business owners, and designed a survey for small business in the Central Okanagan," says Moran. His group then developed a strategic plan and various marketing approaches for reaching out to small businesses.

Moran adds the capstone project was a very beneficial experience, fostering a sense of pride among the members of his group.

"The capstone course enabled us to apply the theoretical models learned in classroom settings in practical applications, and build relationships with the business community. The level of accountability involved in real-world projects was a refreshing bridge to life in the business world."

The United Way was also pleased with the partnership, and the organization is currently in the process of implementing some of the students' key recommendations in their strategic planning.

"As a valuable community resource, I was impressed by the quality, care and professionalism that the MSCP team provided to our organization," says Harry Grossmith, CEO of United Way of the Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen.

The MSCP is offered to the community in the fall and spring academic terms.  Any firm or organization with a business challenge that might be suitable should contact Professor Stuart directly at ian.stuart@ubc.ca.

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