How Our Consulting Project Moves UC Davis Future Forward

Helping the top 5 research university thrive in a post-pandemic world

As the world unevenly recovers from the pandemic, companies are looking to revitalize their profit margins, restore healthy corporate savings and breathe new life into their products and services to meet demand. Non-profits and public higher education institutions like UC Davis are no exception.

UC Davis Taps MBA Students

In early fall 2022, the UC Davis Revenue Generation and Institutional Savings Task Force asked Graduate School of Management Dean H. Rao Unnava about MBA students taking on a substantial project: help the university identify opportunities in a changing business and economic environment.

Our team took this on as our Integrated Management Project, a cornerstone of the Full-Time MBA program’s IMPACT curriculum (Integrated Management Project, Articulation and Critical Thinking).

Specifically, our charge was to distill the university’s values into strict criteria within a framework to effectively determine which business project ideas will generate substantial revenue or savings in the short term and strengthen the university for decades to come.

You can imagine both the anticipation and the pressure our team felt during the first meeting.

Teaming Up

We’re a diverse group, with different backgrounds, skills and experiences. Collectively, we were well prepared to serve the university as our client.

Kartik Kapoor and Rohan Jaswal have excellent data analytics skills. Lucas Haskins brought top-notch communication and technical skills. Feng Liu is a presentation and Google doc formatting whiz. I organized, delegated and kept track of our progress. Thanks to our generous and supportive advisor, Kelly Wilson—who has decades of consulting experience at EY—we were able to quickly map out our game plan. 

Capturing the Values of UC Davis

UC Davis flyover video thumbnail
Put on your jetpack and join the UC Davis drone tour to get a bird’s-eye view of this sweeping 5,300-acre campus nestled in California’s College Town.

We dove into the work and gained traction with weekly milestones and scheduled client meetings well in advance to effectively communicate whenever there were changes to the project’s criteria and requirements.

The criteria rapidly evolved as UC Davis considered the needs of stakeholder groups, both on campus and in the surrounding communities. Finding common ground could not be rushed, and it challenged our time management skills and flexibility to build a system that could accommodate this.

Our shared experience in the Organizational Strategy and Structure core course prepared us well for this Integrated Management Project consulting project. We learned many frameworks and their integration into a client’s organization.

We also introduced new technology (G-suite) in the form of a custom assessment tool we automated into UC Davis’ processes, streamlining the project filtering process into a single step.

Our advisor guided us throughout the project, sharing her broad knowledge as a consultant, her many slide deck templates, and advising us on how to best explain design processes to our client. 


After many long weeks of research into university processes, consistent follow-up with our client, and much hard work, we created a versatile framework with a set of comprehensive criteria that was proficient in reliably testing and evaluating a business project’s viability in an educational environment. We also trained several university revenue generation/savings committee members on our automated assessment tool.

Our final presentation to the university committee was a triumph. UC Davis is now implementing our automated assessment tool into their new processes and will roll out a set of new business projects in the next six to eight months. 

Lessons Learned

Six individual headshots in circles in front of the UC Davis welcome sign
From top-left to bottom-right: Mika Shang, Lucas Haskins, Kartik Kapoor, Feng Liu, Rohan Jaswal, Kelly Wilson (advisor)

Our team gained great insight into real-world applications of the theoretical concepts learned in our Organizational Strategy and Structure, Management of Innovation, and Management of Information Systems courses.

We also learned that it often takes courage to make difficult decisions for our clients and for our team, especially when those decisions could change a project’s direction.

Lastly, learning to communicate effectively and concisely—both verbally and via email—saved time and helped substantially reduce stress and friction between team members and the client.

Overall, I loved our Integrated Management Project and am tremendously grateful to my faithful team members and our advisor for being consistently reliable and encouraging, even on our most challenging days.