Innovative BC Course Brings Students Together
Newton, MA--Have you ever dreamed of climbing the Great Wall of China? How about consulting to a Chinese firm in Beijing?
Those questions are front and center on the website for Boston College’s Asian International Consulting Project (ICP). They intrigued BC Law student Brenna Dion, who was looking for an opportunity to expand upon her interests in business while solving real-world problems. “The chance to travel to Beijing over winter break sounded amazing,” she says. “I had also been thinking about applying to the MBA program, and I thought taking a class at CSOM would be a good way to determine if a dual degree was right for me.”
The innovative ICP course, designed for BC graduate students who are interested in pursuing careers in international consulting, involves the research and delivery of recommendations to existing companies. Project research is completed stateside during the fall semester through libraries, databases, interviews and international communications, and then presented in Beijing to a consulting firm and its clients.
But what’s really special about this course is how it brings students from other Boston College graduate programs together in a unique interdisciplinary approach. Carroll School professor Gregory Stoller has been teaching ICP for the past ten years, and one of the features he likes best is how these students learn from each other.
“Non-CSOM students bring with them invaluable contributions, an interesting perspective, and add a wonderful dynamic to the course,” says Stoller. “It provides everyone with a chance to broaden their respective knowledge bases. Law students can learn about business concepts, and vice-versa with our MBA candidates.”
What makes ICP such a unique opportunity, says Stoller, is that everyone, regardless of their academic affiliation, gets to apply this knowledge in 'real time' to a live consulting engagement, and the consulting team then has to process feedback it receives and further refine its analysis and recommendations. After several weeks of doing this, it no longer really matters what curriculum they might have been schooled in, but rather how the team can best cooperate to produce its best work.
From left to right: BC Law students Jenny Monnet, Jennifer Hau, Nick Stabile, Brenna Dion, Kimberly Chung, Allison Stoddart, and Julia Chen
Last year twenty-three students, representing a cross-section of full- and part-time MBA, MSF, Social Work and BC Law students, participated in ICP Asia. They were broken into teams of 6, and each team researched and consulted on a different project. Brenna Dion’s team researched Activity Based Costing (ABC) in conjunction with their client, CCAFM, a Chinese consulting firm. “We started with zero knowledge about ABC and became experts by December,” Dion says. “As a law student, my understanding of accounting was minimal, but our team had the freedom to focus our studies by conducting interviews with various alumni and industry experts.”
While in Beijing over winter break, they presented their research and recommendations to CCAFM, and strategized with the consultant as to how to best present their findings to the client, a new nickel mining company. “Our group experienced the nuanced challenges of working across very different cultures,” she says. “Through patience, teamwork, openness, and the guidance of Professor Stoller, we minimized the cultural divide and delivered a product that more than satisfied CCAFM, the client, and ourselves.”
The school is currently planning the next Asian International Consulting Project, which will once again involve consulting work during the fall semester on campus, with a trip to Beijing in January 2013.
As for Brenna Dion, she’s since been accepted into the BC J.D./M.B.A. dual degree program. “ICP is a great opportunity for law students to direct their own learning in areas where they have little experience, such as accounting, and to solve real problems for real clients,” she says. “Learning to work with businesses in China will surely transfer to working with international firms--and if law students are thinking about pursuing a dual degree, the ICP Asia class is a great way to get to know potential future classmates and professors.”
The Carroll School and BC Law will be holding info sessions about this year’s ICP Asia course. The Carroll School session will be held on March 13, and the BC Law session will be held on March 19. Visit the ICP website at http://www.bc.edu/content/bc/schools/csom/graduate/mba/appliedlearning/icp.html.
For more information, please contact Gregory Stoller at firstname.lastname@example.org.