Wharton’s Global Consulting Practicum: EMBA Students Build International Teams While Networking and Having Fun

When Rohit Harve was looking at the curriculum offerings for Wharton’s EMBA program, the Global Consulting Practicum (GCP) seemed like an ideal blend of global learning and consulting. The unique course pairs teams of Wharton full-time and executive MBA students and faculty with teams from partner universities in countries such as China, India, Peru, Taiwan and Israel to consult with a client company interested in entering or expanding its position in the U.S. market.

Harve, now a first-year student in Wharton’s East Coast EMBA program and associate director of manufacturing technology for Bristol-Myers Squibb in New Jersey, is enrolled in the course and says he’s already “selling” the GCP to all of his classmates because it’s been so much fun. We asked him to share some of the highlights of the course so far and here’s what he said:

“Our GCP team went to Taiwan in December for a week where we were partnered with students from National Taiwan University and met our client, a software company. The first step was just to build our team because unlike in a company where there is a reporting structure, no one is really reporting to you here.

It was a great learning experience to work with a global international team and a client who speaks very little English and become their trusted advisor. We take for granted that everyone speaks English in the U.S., but here you need to leverage your knowledge about the business and their culture. It’s not as important to get things done quickly, but in the right way that is comfortable for the client.

Also, you don’t always realize how important it is to network with people when you work within a company. But in this case, you need to do market research so you have to cross barriers and talk to people who know nothing about you. The nice thing with the GCP is that people listen when you say you’re a Wharton student working on a project. When you ask for five minutes of their time, they give you 20 minutes. I’ve talked to more C-level people in the last few months than in my years of working. The GCP is a powerhouse when it comes to networking and opening doors.

The GCP is perfect for EMBA students because we already have some background in fields like engineering, marketing, or consulting and we have a knowledge base we can leverage along with what we are learning in the program. All of my classmates are hearing about how much fun we’ve had because in the end we are here to learn as well as have some fun.”

First-year EMBA student Katherine Chen, a director at American Express in New York City, is a member of Rohit’s GCP team. We also asked her to share some of her experiences with the course and here is what she said:

“I have a strategy background in the financial services industry and I thought this would be a great opportunity to expose myself to a different industry. It can be challenging to manage the course with the EMBA schedule because we are working remotely in a virtual environment with an overseas team in a different time zone. There are a lot of conference calls and emails.

When we went to Taiwan, we spent a lot of time with our client to understand their product and decision-making process as well as their corporate culture. It wasn’t like a typical consulting situation where everyone is from the same background and it’s easy to get a proposal together very fast. In this situation, we spent a lot of time working out different ideas, on internal alignment, and influencing each other.  Our team really bonded and it was good we could work together to reach our various milestones.

This course has made my MBA experience even more valuable for me.  Going out of your comfort zone and doing something that is different from your usual day-to-day routine is a good experience. And the course helps you validate some of the things you’ve done in your own work. It builds up confidence in the way you deal with things.”

For more information about the GCP, go to: http://mktgweb.wharton.upenn.edu/gcpcourse/
For a listing of 2009 GCP projects, go to: