MBA Consulting Program Kickoff: A Tale of Two Consultants

Feb. 6, 2015

Eller MBA and MIS business consulting students

“Leading a semester-long project for Microsoft in my first year of the MBA is something I never imagined I’d be doing before I came to Eller,” says Michael Rice, a first-year full-time MBA and JD dual-degree candidate. “I’m really looking forward to working closer with [Mark Patton,] our MIS faculty advisor, learning more about the consulting process, and collaborating with my team.”

The MBA consulting program kicked off for first years just two weeks after the end of winter break. Nine student teams met with their respective client sponsors, faculty advisors, and set the stage for the semester ahead. With clients representing a variety of industries both locally and nationally, students were able to apply their classroom experience to real-world business problems for companies like Raytheon, Sunquest, and Microsoft.

As Team Lead, Michael’s background as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps has prepared him to manage a student team to develop a framework for Microsoft divestitures. Under the guidance and instruction of Nannon Roosa, Director of Experiential Learning, the first-years are also exposed to the entire consulting process throughout the semester.

For second-year full-time student MBA, Marci Hill, the January kick-off was bittersweet; as one of Nannon’s graduate assistants for the first-year projects, this was her third and final launch. One year ago, she was going through her first launch as Work Plan Manager for a marketing-based project for the Institute on Place and Wellbeing (IPW) in Tucson.

“Working with IPW gave me insight into a new industry. Getting the opportunity to be a Team Lead for a Microsoft project in my second year really helped me hone my project management skills, which I can use in any profession.”

Offering the opportunity to gain more experience and bolster a résumé, the second-year advanced consulting project is one of the few competitive electives that requires an application. “Everyone on my team wanted to be there. It made the collaboration that much easier, “ Marci reflects.

With Marci’s Microsoft project ending in December, she now uses her experience from both projects as a GA mentor to the new first-year teams. For someone like Michael Rice, whose journey consulting for Microsoft is just beginning, the second-year graduate assistants are an invaluable resource, having gone through the experience themselves. “Getting to talk to the second-years about their previous projects, especially when some worked with the same company, really brings together the two cohorts.”

Top photo: Marci Hill (bottom right), Eller MBA ’15, visited Redmond, WA with her advanced consulting team and Director of Consulting, Nannon Roosa, to present their final recommendations to Microsoft in December 2014.