Working with a Global, Environmental NGO in Southeast Asia
by Jamie Hunt, MBA ‘13 (3/24/13)
An internship with Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP), a unique program that aims to help non-governmental organizations (NGO) employ innovative management models to strengthen the function of the organization.
In the summer of 2012, I had the opportunity to intern for Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. I worked for a unique program with the company, Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP) that aims to help non-governmental organizations (NGO) employ innovative management models that strengthen the function of the organization.
The inception of my career in management consulting is closely related to my love for nature. Having grown up with an appreciation for catching frogs and doing things manually, I prefer rock climbing to taking elevators and fishing to shopping at Whole Foods. Building upon this affinity for the outdoors, I spent five years prior to my MBA working for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). As an instructor for NOLS Professional Training, I taught mountaineering and climbing, designed leadership progressions, and provided individualized coaching for clients like Kellogg, Wharton, and the United States Naval Academy. As an independent leadership consultant, I facilitated workshops for clients such as The Sustainable Endowments Institute, The National Indian Youth Leadership Program, and Purpose (Purpose.com). In the long run, I aspire to become an executive coach for social entrepreneurs, particularly those interested in serving entrepreneurs in emerging economies.
An internship at ADP appealed to me as I was looking to apply the business acumen I learned during the MBA core classes and SGE Immersion to an NGO in an emerging economy. My client was a global non-profit organization dedicated to changing the attitude and behaviours towards environmental conservation. The organization faced pressing organizational challenges as it was looking to rapidly expand its workforce.
The project consisted of three distinct parts: an assessment of the current organizational challenges, the development of programs to align the organization’s culture with its mission, and the implementation of a standardized sourcing and recruitment process. My role, working with the Bangkok office, was to develop cultural programs to address identified weaknesses, to facilitate the creation of Employer of Choice Messaging to attract new talent, and to draft the HR Strategy document . The overall objective was to align the organization’s formal and informal organizational structure with its culture. Near the end of my internship, the company and I expanded the scope of our project. At the request of the organization’s Executive Director, I developed and facilitated leadership workshops for the thirty-five top managers in Manila, Bangkok, and Jakarta.
With five years of experience coaching leaders to use appropriate decision-making, communication, and risk management strategies, I was well suited to contribute to the three-person team of Accenture consultants. I applied frameworks from organizational development courses at Cornell and drew extensively from my experience as a NOLS instructor and a leadership consultant to my tasks as an intern for Accenture.
I also learned skills that would be critical for my future career in management consulting. I learned to utilize translators while facilitating workshops, to navigate the complicated politics of an NGO, and to appease emotionally-charged employees. Among the challenges I faced during my internship, the most challenging yet valuable experience was facilitating a workshop for fifteen top managers at other branches within the organization. To gain the trust of the managers who were unhappy with the lack of representation in top management, I personally introduced myself to them on an individual basis and catered the workshop session in favour of their religious practices as some Islamic managers needed time and space for midday call-to-prayer.
Through this internship, I was challenged, enlivened, and touched by the opportunity to serve an organization that serves to provide a sustainable environment for future generations. The ADP internship is by far the most compelling experience offered by a global strategy-consulting firm. The experience reinforced my desire to work at the intersection of the for-profit and non-profit in an international setting.