The Glamorous Life of a Management Consultant

by Clint Cherco, MBA'13 (8/24/12)

Clint Cherco, MBA'13

Working for Accenture as a summer intern is not all that dissimilar from working on the SGE immersion project.

Flight delays. Airport food. Feeling nomadic. 110 degree heat in Tulsa, OK.  Ahhh, the glamorous life of a management consultant. But really, things weren’t so bad – I enjoyed my summer with Accenture. While my internship brought certain challenges, it also provided me with many great experiences.

One of the benefits of working at a large organization like Accenture is the diversity of opportunity. With countless varieties of engagement both domestically and internationally and diverse employee backgrounds, there truly is something for everyone. In addition to the talented, helpful full-time employees I met throughout the summer, I enjoyed getting to know the other interns based out of Chicago. Fridays were spent in Accenture’s “Loop” office, in the heart of downtown Chicago. Most weeks included some sort of get-to-know-the-firm event, along with a fun, social event in the afternoon or evening – a Cubs game, scavenger hunt, cooking class, and more. I enjoyed meeting interns from other top business schools, rehashing interesting experiences from the week, trading Excel and PowerPoint tips (fun!), and simply socializing after a busy week on the road.

Mondays through Thursdays were spent at my client’s headquarters in Tulsa, OK. My client was a natural gas utility, comprised of three regional distribution companies serving Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Each distribution company is engaged in very similar work across their respective territories, though all operate largely independently from one another. Recognizing significant opportunities for improvement, the client is currently undertaking a 5+ year endeavor to move from a regional operating model to one organized along functional lines. Accenture is partnering with them to lend insight, experience, and manpower along this journey.

Through various business process and technology changes, the client and Accenture teams have identified over $30 million in annual recurring savings across the distribution companies. While on the surface this sounds great, the real challenge is going to be actually cashing the check and pulling the savings out of the companies’ budgets. Somewhat surprisingly, companies often fail to fully achieve anticipated benefits from business transformations or new initiates because the benefits are either inadequately defined, or nobody is held accountable for achieving them. Therefore, my primary job this summer centered on helping the client think about a benefits realization plan. I developed a series of tools and frameworks to help facilitate discussions with client teams that focused on nailing down where specific cost savings would come from (and why), and who would be responsible and accountable for making them happen.

My internship was not all that dissimilar from my spring semester at Johnson. In the SGE Immersion I spent nearly the entire semester working on a project with an industrial enzyme manufacturer looking to increase sales in their Food & Beverage division. While the companies and industries are different, both projects required me to quickly get up to speed on industries with which I’ve had no prior experience, work with diverse project teams, and solve complex, ambiguous problems. The SGE Immersion practicum painted a realistic picture of what it’s like to work in a client services environment, and helped prepare me to think creatively and strategically on my feet to address clients’ needs. This summer I affirmed my belief that consulting is a great way to rapidly develop a wide variety of business skills, and I now look forward to rounding out my education and enjoying my final year in Ithaca before a full-time job again becomes a reality.