FEMBA represented itself very well in the Net Impact Consulting Challenge (NICC) this year, winning both first and second place in the competition.
Here’s an inside-look at the NICC from the FEMBA team paired with Homeboy Industries. Case competitions are an excellent way to hone business skills, deepen your network, and, especially in the social-profit-focused NICC, make a difference. This year, 85 students from Anderson and the Fielding School of Public Health contributed more than 1,000 hours of consulting support to 19 organizations.
For this blog post, I had a great conversation with Deepak. The NICC was one of six case competitions he entered his first year of FEMBA. “I kinda went crazy on case competitions,” he told me.
“Dylan, what makes NICC different from the other competitions is that we really got in-depth with the client. It was much more like a day-on-the-job in that it gave me much more insight into a new industry. That key difference really caught our attention as we were building our team.”
“In every case competition, I tried to pair up with new people, even from different sections. The networking is great at Anderson, but there’s so much more to learn in a case competition setting; you really see people’s strengths and weaknesses and I think the relationships formed are even stronger.”
Here’s Deepak Patil’s telling of the NICC experience this year:
The Competition: We did a few case competitions prior to NICC (Net Impact Consulting Challenge). All were interesting and enriching experiences but this one was very different compared to the others. NICC pairs you up with a local non-profit organization and you get about 15 days to do a consulting assignment with the non-profit, starting with a project scope and coming up with valuable strategic recommendations to strengthen the non-profit services. At end we present in front of judges the issues and the recommendation.
Team formation: Prasad Naik took a lead on this one and approached a few of us and convinced us to join the team, to make real impact. The final team was Prasad Naik ’16, Nihar Bhatt ’16, Anjali Purkayastha ’16, Micheal Weare ’16, Tiffany Cantrell ’16 and Deepak Patil ’16 (me).
Homeboy Industries: We got paired up with Homeboy Industries, which provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women. We really appreciated the cause that they work for.
Kick Off : Our contact at Homeboy Industries was a little hesitant to work with newbies (first year FEMBAs), but the kick-off meeting with us instilled the confidence in them that we could help them with our talents and varied experiences.
We had our kick off and were able to come up with project scope on day 1. Homeboy had a lot of goals and we worked with them to prioritize and narrow them to the most important. The tasks were mainly related to Homeboy Bakery division of the industry.
Days at Work: The first task that most of us on our team did was to visit Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, to get a better understanding of their mission. We met quite a few very enterprising Homeboys, understood the way they work and got a know-how of the workings of the bakery market.
Then it was time for market research – multiple surveys, collection of data, analyzing data, numerous calls with Homeboy Industries, customers and other potential customers. Just for people who love inside quotes – I still remember Prasad, Nihar and me (Deepak) working at around 1:00 AM at Nihar’s office trying to makes sense out of the data collected and bring it all together (doing this while eating pizza and drinking Pepsi). We were hitting some roadblocks, and I said may be we will be able to solve this if we switch to Coca Cola (Nihar works for PepsiCo) and Nihar came back saying nope, maybe it will be just easy to analyze it if we could use SAP (I work for Oracle). Touché Nihar, Touché.
It was hard work, but a great bonding experience at the same time. The best skill that we learned from each other was how to attack an argument and not the person.
FEMBA life comes with challenges, for example, managing the time of 6 FEMBA students (work, study, and personal life) was a tough task, but we also learned that teamwork can make many things possible. It also made us appreciate the importance and value the support our fellow FEMBAs gave us. I am pretty we are making friendships which we will cherish for life.
Deliverables and Presentation: The challenge here was to consolidate all those hours spent on research into a 15 minute presentation. Gallons of coffee and a Starbucks Gold Status helped us get through this hurdle. On the presentation day we all did a great job of presenting our findings and recommendations to the Judges and Homeboy Industries.
We had a great opportunity to compete with some of the best Anderson teams. After the first round, we made it to finals. The final presentation was in front of a larger audience and all the 15 judges. It was indeed a great experience and snagging the 2nd place ($3000 as the prize money) was just another perk and a good one at that!
Aftermath: We are still in touch with Homeboy Industries, and helped them out with the deliverables. It was an honor and a great experience to work on something which makes an impact in today’s world almost immediately and for a good cause.
From the Homeboy Industries website, here’s a cool infographic about the positive human impact that results from their efforts. Congratulations again to Deepak and team; thanks for making a difference!