Why global organisations come to Cambridge MBAs for input.
The Global Consulting Project (GCP) is often considered by students to be one of the highlights of the Cambridge MBA. As we approach the end of Lent term, students, in teams of four or five, are leaving Cambridge for countries around the world including Japan, China, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Brazil and South Africa. Travel to client locations follows the completion of detailed project briefs by the teams, establishing the set objectives for each strategic project. This is not simulation – clients expect professional contributions with real recommendations and impact.
The GCP marks the end of the Management Praxis II core course, a sequel to the Management Praxis I course delivered in Michaelmas. This course, a cornerstone of the MBA curriculum at Cambridge, focuses on enhancing negotiation skills as well as the study of leading high performance teams. It also provides a transition between the first MBA team project – the Cambridge Venture Project (CVP) – which happens in term one (Michaelmas) and the later GCP, enabling students to reflect on the integration of skills and practice, and to use these reflections to build stronger, more cohesive teams for the GCP.
This year, the GCP has once again allowed current students to gain a rich experience within a variety of industry sectors ranging from the arts, healthcare, finance, energy and environment, and NGOs; with companies such as American Airlines, Aston Martin, Bentley Motors, Google, L’Oréal, Citi Bank, and BRAC, the world’s largest NGO.
Whilst the MBA Business Development team at CJBS typically sources the majority of the GCPs, a number of projects this year were sourced by MBA students themselves. Student-sourced GCPs this year include the Netherlands Central Bank, Asahishuzo, AfricInvest, Thread.com, WHILL and Regenerate Christchurch.
A recurring theme of this year’s student sourced GCPs is social impact. One particular client, Regenerate Christchurch, is a young organisation established in 2016 to lead the regeneration of Christchurch, New Zealand as it recovers from the 2016 earthquake. AfricInvest, a pan-African Private Equity fund manager investing in 135 companies across 24 African countries in a variety of high growth sectors, is another new student sourced GCP client during which the team will advise the organisation on entering the venture capital (VC) industry in the region.
WHILL, a US based company specialising in the development of new wheelchair technology, has challenged their MBA team to provide go-to-market strategies as the company seeks to enter the European market.
Venture capital/private equity projects were also in high demand this year with students. Prime Ventures, a leading venture capital and growth equity firm focused on investing in European companies in the technology and related industries, has their team working on valuations.
MBA alumna Fatoumata Diané, who did her GCP with NGO GOAL in 2016, reflects on the value of the experience for her:
“The top lesson from the GCP was how to work with international teams and how to adapt to different styles. The second lesson was a personal one – I realised I wanted to work in Africa after my MBA. I joined an international organisation – IFC – after graduating and those skills have been very valuable.”
Induja Sridharan, MBA alumna now working for Merck Consumer Health, did her GCP with Santen Pharmaceuticals:
“I had a plan to join the strategy team of a pharma company after my MBA. The GCP gave me great experience – it was a market-entry strategy project. It was great to make real recommendations to the client, and I was confident they would use them. The GCP definitely gave me an idea of what I wanted my future role to be.”
Sadia Cuthbert, Head of MBA Business Development and Projects says:
“We have offered fantastic project opportunities to our students again this year. The GCP is such an important leaning milestone for students, allowing them to apply their knowledge gained across the curriculum so far, but also their ‘softer skills’ will also be tested as they apply their expertise in the high pressure situation of a live consulting project. We look forward to great results at the end”.
Detailed case studies of several projects will be available on our website from May 2017.