Thursday, July 24, 2008

Consulting Club – BCG Official Event – July 2nd 2008

The Boston Consulting Group, one of the most coveted firms on campus, conducted its first official session at ISB, in conjunction with the Consulting Club, on 2nd July 2008. This was the first time that the batch was brought face to face with some of the Principals and Project Leaders of the firm. The BCG team consisted of the following

Mr Bart Janssens, Principal,
Mr Navneet Vasishth, Principal and Recruitment effort leader for BCG at ISB
Mr Gaurav Nath, Project Leader,
Mr Shaleen Sinha, Project Leader,
Mr Akshit Shah, Senior Associate and ISB alum from Class of 2007
Mr Hardik Manek, Senior Associate and ISB alum from class of 2008
Mr Ankush Wadhera, Senior Associate and ISB alum from the class of 2008

The theme of the event was to go beyond general information about consulting to description of the way problems are actually tackled by consultants, specifically at BCG.

The team started off with a short, succinct presentation on Boston Consulting Group, its ethos and working philosophy. Elucidating on the above, Bart emphasized on the “Sweet Spot” that BCG occupied in terms of people and networks, its ability to impact organizations, and intellectual stimulation. These he said, were crucial to BCG’s success in the consulting profession.

The team also talked about the broad categories of clients with whom BCG worked, namely Industries, Companies, Governments and Non Governmental organizations.

Moving on to the main theme of the day, the team picked three very different assignments handled by them to explain how BCG approached its cases.

The first assignment related to developing a sales and marketing strategy for a motorcycle firm. This firm was facing a rapidly deteriorating financial position and an eroding market share and needed urgent steps to affect a turnaround. Gaurav explained how his team broke the entire value chain of the firm into pieces to identify the weaker links. They realized that one of the weakest links for the firm was its sales strategy, and hence proceeded to counter the same. From creating buzz about the product through word of mouth, social circles in offices and networking sites, to offering “experience centric” test rides to the potential customer, the BCG team suggested very unconventional modes to build up the customer base. The motorcycle firm’s management though initially skeptical, implemented these steps with support from the BCG team. Within a year, the results showed an improvement in overall sales of the firm.

Shaleen was the next to speak about his assignment, one involving creating a winning product in the refrigerator market, for an electronic goods firm that was facing a low market growth, intense competition and rising commodity prices. The firm had ageing products and the brand was not considered contemporary in the market. For Shaleen and his team, the goal was to help the firm create a winning product within the budget cost and shortest time possible. Shaleen explained how his team sat with the combined team of R&D, manufacturing and marketing and analyzed the entire process of taking a good from the design table, through manufacturing process onto the showroom. They first looked at the consumer needs to arrive at a possible design that would appeal to the main consumer – an Indian Housewife. The team then worked with R&D and manufacturing to identify potential cost reduction areas in the process. Based on these, the BCG team gave its recommendation to the firm, and then worked with the firm to ensure that all the recommendations were implemented in letter and spirit. The result was a winning product, that met all the requirements of being within the budget cost and reaching the market on time.

The last case of the day referred to an ongoing project being undertaken by BCG to target what is referred to as the Next Billion. This refers to the lower middle class demographic of any country – one that represents a largely untapped consumer potential. Akshit explained that the project revolved around understanding the specific needs and requirements of this consumer segment, their aspirations of matching the higher demographic segments lifestyle, and how they tried to match those aspirations under the financial constraints. Based on this understanding the BCG team would go about identifying products that would meet the requirements of this consumer segment. Currently the team is working on products from the telecom sector, suited to this segment.

Through the above examples, the BCG team emphasized the rigorous, structured and analytical thought process with which any problem and assignment was approached. It was also mentioned how any BCG team worked closely with the customer both during the recommendation as well as the implementation phase of the assignment.

Towards the end of the session, the BCG team fielded questions from students on their strategies and methods followed for working on assignments. This event was unique in the sense the team gave an insight to the students on how a typical consultancy project worked and thus helped them develop a perspective on what to expect of in terms of work as future consultants.

With more such events planned by BCG as well as other top tier consulting firms through the year, the budding consultants of the batch can look forward to an enriching road ahead as they chart their career plans.

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