By Kim Blanton
Scott McDermott recruited Eastern Bank’s CEO through their mutual involvement in town government in Medfield, where they both happen to live. He plucked Charles River Associates when its CEO sat next to him at BC’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston luncheon. And he taps everyone associated with the Carroll School of Management (CSOM) to refer client prospects to him.
The wiry and energetic McDermott might be called the networker-in-chief for the Boston College Consulting Project, an applied learning program that he runs and also teaches for all first-year MBA students.
Students tackle the gamut of real-world strategic and management issues for the international and U.S. corporations, start-ups and non-profits that McDermott and others recruit as external clients for the Consulting Project. And it’s no coincidence that the program’s core philosophy is reflected in McDermott’s wide-ranging professional experience – as a one-time CSOM business law professor, a law-firm founder, and a top executive and consultant for numerous companies.
“Management is something you have to do – you can’t just study it,” said CSOM Associate Dean of Graduate Programs Jeffrey L. Ringuest. “Scott has a nice blend of traditional academic and business experience.”
McDermott, in his second full year as director of the 34-year-old program, has invigorated it with a belief that his key responsibility is to find the best management projects for the program’s 20 teams of MBA students to learn from each year.
Each project should “challenge students across disciplines – a little bit if finance, a little bit of marketing, a little bit of strategy, a little bit of innovation,” he said. “If you’re a senior manager, you have to be able to do projects that touch all these fields.”
Attesting to the program’s success is a two-foot stack of binders on the floor of McDermott’s office containing his students’ finished projects. Boston Scientific, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Brown Brothers Harriman, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston Scientific, EMC Corp., Narragansett Beer, and Liberty Mutual are among the companies that participated.
Another ingredient of its success, McDermott said, is that the companies involved make a conscious commitment to improve their operations and to work with the students to implement their advice. These criteria are also used to assess students’ projects in the two-day Diane Weiss Consulting Competition, which McDermott organizes.
Last year, a project prepared for Boston Scientific won. But the competition, McDermott said, was “intense.”