MSc in Strategy & Consulting Field Missions – When students become strategic consultants

Source:emlyon business schoolDate:2024-02-23

Conducted two days a week over January to April of each academic year, the Field Missions form a central part of the MSc in Strategy & Consulting’s drive to plunge students into the realities of strategic consulting within major corporations. Four students recount their recent introduction to being tasked with analyzing how a company undergoing significant change should best go about its business.

Now into its third year, the latest batch of 25 Field Missions saw a further 61 students meet the challenges of business transformation in a wide range of sectors ranging from Energy Distribution and Retail to Construction and NGOs, to name just a few. This brings the total number of missions carried out as part of the MSc in Strategy & Consulting to 66. The aim? To set students the challenge of drawing up business recommendations to companies in need of strategic change based on wide-ranging analysis of each company’s current performance, the state of the market, best practices by competitors, and suggesting a way forward. A personal and professional eye-opener awaits each student-consultant.

Learning how best to manage the client

Kenza Bibaoune
Class of 2022 MSc in Consulting & Management
Mazars , Consultante en transformation de la function

“I was posted to a major group from the software development industry. However, the mission for which the company enlisted my services and two fellow students consisted of in-depth analysis and possible transformation of their business model. This was no small task as it meant questioning people high up in the hierarchy, including Marketing and Strategy Directors."

“The main challenge was to think and act as a consultant from the outset, not as a student. Our professional insight was required so I had to operate accordingly. To do so, it was crucial to ascertain how best to manage the client and their expectations. Not all companies that bring in consultants have identified exactly what they need, which was a central part of my role. The challenge was technical in nature and my communications skills were put very much to the test from the start.”

Breaking the news in order to create value

Raoul Dromart
Class of 2022 MSc in Consulting & Management
Capgemini Invent, Consultant Stratégie & Transformation

“I was assigned to a major construction group and asked to examine their ESG strategy, with particular emphasis on the area of Biodiversity. This involved investigation of current regulations and finding the right vocabulary to present to non-experts the improvements the company could make in this regard."

“A lot of the mission centered on raising awareness of ways to improve performance, learning to sift out greenwashing from actual best practices, and above all creating a new value proposal. As a consultant, you must be prepared to announce news that, in the short term, may not be music to your client’s ears but which, in the long term, are recommendations designed to benefit them. Thanks to the Field Mission I got a rare opportunity to practice consulting within a major corporation, an opportunity that doesn’t come along every day”.

The importance of being strategic

Shawn Nkusi
Class of 2022 MSc in Consulting & Management
Amadeus, Project Management Intern - Operations Strategy Execution

“My four-month stint took place in a pharmaceutical diagnostics company at an especially interesting time as a partnership with a North American firm was being considered. My role was to establish the potential gains for the company in partnering, the targets of their operations, the current state of the market for both human and animal vaccines, and the added value of the initiative.”

“Coming from a non-scientific background, my team members and I began with a crash course in the areas of Biology and vaccines whilst conducting the fact-finding part of the mission. The unfamiliarity of the sector represented quite a curve ball and a very useful one at that – learning to be strategic as a consultant often involves working on areas that one is not necessarily used to. We also had to carefully manage the scope of the project, ensure that our sources were crystal clear, and maintain legitimacy in the eyes of the client. Thanks to this experience I’ll be able to approach similarly uncharted areas in the future with far more assurance!”

Identifying and tackling the problem

Phillipa Roper
Class of 2022 MSc in Consulting & Management
WITH, Junior Digital Consultant

“A group comprising nutrition and beauty brands was the subject of my mission. From the outset, we had to be proactive in seeking out information and people. Upon learning that the group was considering expanding into Africa, we embarked on an in-depth analysis of the target countries as well as looking at broader trends, customer profiles, and the competition.”

“Being South African and having a background in the luxury and fashion industry I found this subject very interesting, plus the mission is a major tick on my CV. I had never considered working in the beauty industry and this mission stirred my interest, resulting in a successful internship application as a digital consultant in the beauty industry for the EMEA region. The mission enabled me to understand that sometimes consultants are called in to work on a project when the clients don't know themselves what the problem is or what a consultant's job is. This was the hardest aspect of the project but also the most rewarding part of the learning experience”.