Spring 2013 Newsletter

TCF Stadium

University of Minnesota Athletic Director (AD), Norwood Teague, approached the Consulting Enterprise last fall to help the Gopher football team. Fortunately - both for us and for the football program - AD Teague was looking for help off the field. He wanted to leverage the CCE's analytical and strategic thinking skills to understand the dynamics of student attendance at Gopher football games and develop plans to strengthen this crucial "twelfth man." We jumped at the opportunity to partner with Gopher Football and help address an important University issue.

CCE's project focused on identifying the key factors that drive student attendance, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative consumer research as well as conducting interviews to benchmark practices at 17 other schools. The team conducted ethnographic research by observing and interviewing students at every home game and using its findings to develop and test hypotheses. It then worked closely with Assistant Marketing Professor Joe Redden to develop a survey which was distributed to over 5,000 University of Minnesota students. "It was interesting to see how many factors, such as the opposing team's record, are actually not that important to students, while other factors like the entertainment in the stadium are paramount to the student experience," said second-year MBA student Charlie Rota. "This work will help the athletic department focus its resources on the levers that matter most."

At the end of the semester, the team presented its findings to Athletic Director Teague and his marketing team. It has subsequently been asked to present its work to both University President Eric Kaler as well as to the Carlson School of Management Board of Overseers later this spring.

"The goal of the project was bigger than just studying attendance. The goal was to create an experience for fans and to build a stronger community around the U of M. I'm excited to see our recommendations come to life - and to actually watch a Gopher football game rather than studying the student section next fall," said team lead Rob Bradley.

The Carlson Consulting Enterprise (CCE) puts MBA students into student-managed teams to address the real-world strategy and operational challenges of client businesses expecting world-class results. The Consulting Enterprise partners with Full-Time MBA students, the Carlson School's world-class faculty, and directors with outstanding consulting and industry experience to address clients' challenges.

Projects address complex business issues by utilizing a structured problem-solving approach, similar to the approach used by top professional management consultancies. Student teams conduct end- to-end consulting engagements, from problem definition and hypothesis generation through analysis and recommendation development. Teams work closely with client stakeholders throughout each engagement and share findings along the way.

Established in 2002, the Consulting Enterprise has a strong history of delivering successful projects for local companies and non-profit organizations. Clients value the CCE as a great source for objective problem-solving as well as an opportunity to meet top MBA talent and build their employment brand on campus.

To learn more about the Consulting Enterprise, please contact Sarah Gisser at sgisser@umn.edu or 612-626-7751.

Sarah Gisser

Sarah Gisser recently joined the Carlson School as the professional director of the Carlson Consulting Enterprise. Gisser is no stranger to CCE, having served as an associate director of the Consulting Enterprise and the Brand Enterprise in 2005-06 and 2009-10.

"We're very excited to have Sarah joining our team," said Phil Miller, former Consulting Enterprise director and current assistant dean for the MBA Programs and Graduate Business Career Center. "Sarah's impressive background in industry and consulting combined with her focus on student mentorship make her a great addition to our program."

Before returning to the Carlson School, Gisser was a senior group manager at Target, where she served as a team leader in designing, conducting, and synthesizing qualitative and quantitative consumer research to drive the company's merchandising and marketing strategies for its home and seasonal businesses. Prior to Target, she was an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company in Minneapolis and worked on a series of brand management assignments for the Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.

"I am thrilled to return to the Carlson School and lead the Consulting Enterprise," Gisser said. "The fall semester gave me a great reintroduction to all aspects of the CCE. The students, Phil, and Art Hill, CCE academic director, have been tremendously supportive, which has helped me get up to speed quickly. I really enjoyed getting to know the veteran CCE'ers and working with them on a portfolio of challenging projects, and I look forward to welcoming our incoming class in the spring."

The 2012-13 school year marks the 10th year of operation for the Consulting Enterprise. Since 2002, the CCE has engaged in over 150 projects for corporate and non-profit clients in the Twin Cities. The CCE has earned a great reputation for offering an exceptional value in objective problem-solving and has developed a strong base of satisfied clients, many of whom have engaged the CCE repeatedly over the years.

Strategy Operations General Management
Strategy projects include industry analysis, market opportunity assessment, and growth strategy development Operations projects focus on process evaluation, redesign, and identifying opportunities for operations improvement General management topics vary, but have covered such issues as business model development and incentive alignment
Thomas Sit

Thomas Sit
2008 MBA Graduate, Medtronic

Thomas Sit recently finished a sales force program overhaul for Medtronic international marketing teams in China, India, and Japan. "We're starting to see new business models as far as the structure of how sales are coordinated with distribution, as well as good results in driving sales productivity," said Thomas in a recent interview. A 2008 graduate from CCE, Thomas started working for Medtronic in its IT Leadership Development program. Based in southern California with the diabetes business, Thomas' first year in the leadership program focused on the post-sale customer experience. In his second year, Thomas led sales force effectiveness programs for the same division. Thomas has since moved into the international marketing group, which supports southeast Asia, China, Australia, India, and Japan.

Sachin Bansal

Sachin Bansal
2006 MBA Graduate, UnitedHealth Group

Sachin, 2006 alumnus of the Carlson Consulting Enterprise, has been with UnitedHealth Group for six years. He is currently a member of the corporate development team overseeing strategy formulation, business development, and deal execution for the $110 billion company. The role requires significant interaction with corporate leadership, business unit executives, investment bankers, and private equity firms. Most recently, Sachin was involved in UnitedHealth Group's acquisition of Amil Participações S.A., Brazil's largest healthcare company, for approximately $4.9 billion. Sachin's experience in the CCE has helped him sharpen his critical thinking and problem-solving skills to quickly size up complex business situations, understand different perspectives, and make prompt and effective business decisions. By taking a step back, analyzing and prioritizing stakeholders, and then understanding where he can help business owners, Sachin has excelled professionally.

Joti Walia
2008 MBA Graduate, Johnson & Johnson

Joti started with Johnson & Johnson after graduation in 2008 in its MBA leadership development program. After successfully completing two rotations, Joti was promoted to manager of advanced sterilization products in 2012. In her first assignment in her new role, Joti travelled to Switzerland to help standardize financial processes and reporting. Not only did she train the Swiss team and successfully transition the project to a Swiss manager, but Joti also received a Johnson & Johnson leadership award of excellence. Congratulations, Joti!

"The CCE was the single most important educational experience I had during my MBA program. More than anything else, it helped prepare me for a career in consulting....The CCE made me better equipped to approach complex problems, ask good questions, manage projects on multiple dimensions, and find answers in unexpected places."

- Anne Huart, 2011 MBA graduate, Kurt Salmon Associates


"CCE has helped me tremendously in terms of structuring problems - breaking very big issues into addressable chunks - that's proved to be valuable time and again. Also, the CCE allows people to work with team members of very different interest areas or focuses than yours. That's been applicable throughout my work at Medtronic - cross-functionally and internationally."

- Thomas Sit, 2008 MBA graduate, Medtronic


"The biggest things I learned in CCE were how to interact as project manager, how to deal with ambiguity, and how to work with people from different backgrounds."

- Joti Walia, 2008 MBA graduate, Johnson & Johnson