Global Lab, students don't wait to tackle real problems
course challenges by demanding intellectual depth and international
Hirai '08 is passionate about global business. So passionate,
that she was determined to gain as much international experience
as possible before graduating from the Kellogg School. If
that meant creating a class to obtain the sort of hands-on
overseas consulting experience she wanted, so be it.
took her proposal to the Kellogg administration early last
year. A few months later, the new course, Global Lab,
debuted. It quickly attracted 25 registrants as eager as Hirai
to take on a real-world challenge for an international firm.
Kellogg School recruited Paul
Christensen, manager of the $28-million private equity
firm ShoreCap International Ltd., to teach the class. He assigned
students to small teams, each working to solve a specific
problem for one of six overseas companies.
team met with Christensen once a week to discuss its work.
At the end of the quarter, the teams traveled to meet with
senior management and present their findings.
is not an easy class, and that's by design," Christensen
says. "I used to be a consultant, and I would have found
it a real challenge to do 10 weeks of work before I even met
with the client. Our students worked very hard to figure out
the crux of the issue and address the client's problem. They
took their core functional skills — strategy, sales,
marketing, finance — and applied it to a case. It was
a real deliverable, for a real client, and a true international
and her team partnered with a firm in India, researching the
apparel industry and determining how to apply lessons from
successful U.S. brands to the Indian market. They ran focus
groups, surveyed consumers and, once in India, worked closely
with senior managers to strategically position several Indian
said the experience was exactly what she had hoped for when
she proposed the class. She called Global Lab a "perfect
balance" between the demands of a professional consulting
job and a reflective academic and cultural experience.
that exposure to international consulting before graduation
was great," said Hirai, now a consultant for McKinsey
& Co. "The distance and the cultural differences
made it more challenging, but it was extremely rewarding and
helped me expand my global perspectives."
Rager '08 had a similarly gratifying experience. Rager's
team consulted with a rapidly growing company in Chile that
has created a device to measure lumber volume. The company
asked the Kellogg students to determine whether and how to
enter the U.S. and Canadian markets, so Rager and his colleagues
researched the North American lumber industry, analyzed laws
and regulations, and shared their findings with the client.
was far more time-consuming than any other class," Rager
says. "But we didn't treat it like a class. We viewed
it as an opportunity to help our client."
the end of the quarter, the team traveled to Chile and spent
two weeks at the company's offices, completing research, brainstorming
with senior managers and assembling a final presentation,
which included implementation and timeline recommendations.
class teaches you a lot about consulting — working with
the client, thinking through the problem, managing expectations,
focusing on the execution and meeting the customer's needs,"
needs were met successfully. In a survey, all the participating
firms agreed that students' work was of long-term value. All
also said they would do another project with a Kellogg team,
felt the students brought new insights and knowledge that
the clients hadn't thought of before," Christensen says.
"They found the students personable and engaging to work
with, and they were very pleased."