Making the shift from academic to consulting can be quite challenging as we, Team Hexicon, discovered on our Consulting Abroad Project. We are comprised of Global MBA candidates of the George Washington School of Business who are working with a Swedish company, Hexicon AB, to determine the optimal entry method for the U.S. offshore wind market. This project is particularly challenging as the offshore wind market is currently undeveloped in the U.S. In the processes of fine- tuning the project details, we quickly discovered that in order to be successful, we would need to approach this project more as consultants rather than academic researchers.
Most of our graduate papers thus far have been focused more on academic content. These projects are very detail oriented and are written in a way that leads the audience to a general conclusion. The accompanying presentation style closely mimics the content and context of the paper. It is important to lead the audience through the story to a realized conclusion at the end. Consulting projects, on the other hand, while very similar, have a few significant differences that completely change the way in which the paper and presentation are structured. In consulting, the idea of leading the audience, almost story like, through the research is very similar to the academic process; however, instead of reaching a conclusion, we provide recommendations for the company to pursue. This is important as it completely changes the way we present our findings.
The class structure was extremely beneficial for our team as it helped us to gradually make the shift from academic to consulting. We started off our classes with the Paul Friga Workshop which gave us the skeletal structure we would need to layout our project for success. Paul Friga was helpful in that he facilitated our team’s understanding that while the idea of sharing the story of our journey is very similar to how we were accustomed to presenting, it would need some major tweaks to transform it into a consulting presentation. Going off of this ideal, our classes were structured very similarly in a way to help us better achieve these goals. We started off our research in the general offshore wind market to gain a better understanding of the industry and client. This was definitely more academically focused at the beginning, and presented on a weekly basis in a very academic way which allowed our fellow classmates the opportunity to understand the background and general direction our research had taken. Then, once we had conducted most of the initial research, we began fine-tuning what we had gathered in order to begin providing some recommendations.
Our class structure had also shifted with this mentality. We began presenting more on our recommendations and began showcasing the research in a way that promoted our project solution. This was tricky as it forced us to not only shift our approach in the paper but also the way we presented. We achieved this by restructuring our presentation so that the recommendations were announced at the beginning and then followed by the research to support these recommendations. We then concluded with the recommendations once more to better solidify our audiences’ understanding of our solutions. In this way, the audience is still taken through the story of our research but ends with a formal recommendation rather than a generalized conclusion. Our classes helped us to make this shift gradually and present in front of our peers to not only receive constructive feedback but also gain insights into how an audience perceives our presentation.
Once we had achieved a good working structure we were then able to present in front of industry experts and consultants who have real world experience not only in the renewable energy market but also in the consulting process. This part of the process was invaluable for our team. At first, we presented with a little too much background information and were not able to get our recommendations across in a clear and concise way. We had been working so closely with the research that it was challenging for us to narrow down our focus. That being said, our team then made the decision to present in a much more high-level way that did not divulge too much of the nitty-gritty details and instead focused on important, targeted information that really sold our recommendations. This time the presentation met with much more success, yet we still saw room for improvement. For the final presentation at the embassy in Sweden, we plan to maintain our high-level focus but couple it with more concise direction and better presentation of our actual recommendation. We feel that presenting in this way will give our team the best opportunity for success!