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10 Tips to Get the Most from Your MBA Consulting Project
Set realistic expectations for you and your team to succeed together

As a first-year UC Davis MBA student, all you can do is wait for the tidal wave to hit you.

You start hearing both triumphant and intense stories about the IMPACT project, our capstone course known by that acronym as Integrated Management Project and Articulation and Critical Thinking. You hear experiences about the amount of work, the interesting client demands, the satisfaction, the long hours, the comradery, and the challenges of teamwork.

So as I entered my first year in the Full-Time MBA program, I approached the project the way I do with everything: With a healthy dose of positivity.

FOLLOW YOUR INTERESTS

While toiling away later at my summer internship following my first year, I learned about the types of IMPACT projects available to my class. We ranked them based on our interests.

From the get-go I was excited. Half the projects were in an industry I wanted to work in, and they were all interesting and challenging. This is the special sauce that makes a UC Davis MBA powerful. The fact that we are able to apply what we learn to a tangible and real-world project is invaluable.

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS, WITH WINE

Just as the fall quarter was about to start, I received my project and team assignment. Fortunately, I landed my first choice. Our team would create a business plan for the world-renowned UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. We would establish a separate nonprofit entity to sell the wine produced in the campus’ state-of-the-art winery, returning the benefits back to the department, and save thousands of gallons of student-made wine from having to be poured down the drain each year.

Be curious and skeptical. It is your job to find the knowledge gaps.

This project is a great example of why I chose to come to UC Davis for my MBA. I am extremely passionate about the agriculture industry and am also the co-president of the Food and Wine Leadership Club at the School.

Our team met many stakeholders, academic and industry leaders, experts and wine enthusiasts, all of whom eagerly shared their vision, knowledge and experience. Together we traversed sensitive legal hurdles, navigated rocky political landscapes and addressed many, sometimes disparate, stakeholder requests. Our team also faced major life events and family challenges and still held together. This led to a high level of respect, comradery and curiosity across our team and made the IMPACT project a very positive experience for all.

10 TAKEAWAYS FROM MY IMPACT PROJECT EXPERIENCE:

  1. Determine what’s possible with your limited time and what will be beyond your limits.
  2. The attitude you bring to the group is more important than who is on your team.
  3. Every type of project and each component will teach you something.
  4. Being a team player is just as important as pleasing the client.
  5. The client is not always right.
  6. You get back only as much as you put in.
  7. Trust your academic advisor. They are knowledgeable and powerful in moving your project forward.
  8. Time manage. Time manage. Time manage.
  9. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your client, as well as your team members.
  10. Be curious and skeptical. It is your job to find the knowledge gaps.

Despite the ominous stories, my IMPACT experience was extremely valuable and I learned many professional lessons. I am a better leader and contributor as a result, having collaborated with my team to develop a solution to a real-world business operations challenge.