2020 Global Consulting Program Embraced Virtual Challenges with Outstanding Results

Virtual GCP gave students real-world international business experience by working with two clients based in Brazil.

The winter virtual Global Consulting Program (GCP) provided students with the opportunity to gain real-world international business experience as they worked together to provide creative, actionable solutions to their two clients based in Brazil – Shopping Center 3 and Pontte.

“It takes a special group of students and an inspiring leader to spearhead a new program,” said Colin Gabler, the director of the Center for International Business Education & Development. “When the in-person Brazil trip was cancelled due to COVID-19, these students didn’t sulk and Theo Muir didn’t hesitate, immediately making plans for the virtual program. This first cohort created an opportunity from a challenge, blazing the trail for future virtual GCP programs in the College of Business.”

The College of Business’s GCP is a two-week long, transformative experience where Ohio University students collaborate with international partners around the world to engage in live-client consulting projects. With mentoring and guidance from OHIO faculty and partner universities, student teams produce high-quality results for real businesses, providing recommendations to solve their business challenges.

Through the program, students participate in a unique, resume-differentiating opportunity that allows them to experience professional development, business training, personal growth, and cultural awareness. Although the most recent GCP was completed solely through Microsoft Teams instead of in person, students still had the chance to experience some of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that the program has to offer.

“As with any consulting project, this one also had its share of ambiguity, and paired with the new virtual approach, students faced the additional challenge of not being able to meet in person and not being able to experience the cultural nuances first hand,” said Theo Muir, GCP site director. “However, the teams completely embraced this challenge and delivered exceptional results. Although virtual, this experience proved beneficial because of the quick connectivity amongst team members and the client, which also prepared students for the ‘new normal’ of remote, virtual work environments.”

While physically being in the country provides a unique cultural immersion that teaches students about the daily life of the local population, the virtual program also provided a cultural experience, just in a different way. This was accomplished by researching the country and through the direct, virtual interaction with the clients. This interaction provided unfiltered cultural business context for working internationally, which is critical in today’s world where in-person international meetings are not always possible.

Students worked with Shopping Center 3, the oldest shopping mall in São Paulo, Brazil, and Pontte, a national fintech (financial technology) company headquartered in São Paulo, specializing in providing home equity loans. Both of these clients brought real problems from different sectors, giving students the opportunity to present new ideas, directions, and market analyses.

For Shopping Center 3, two student teams gathered consumer insights to determine how to best utilize a 20,000-square foot space most effectively, focusing on trends in the leisure industry. For Pontte, students worked together to improve the consumer experience and the consumer’s journey during their relationship with Pontte.

As a result of the students’ hard work, both clients decided to incorporate the presentations into their meetings with their board of directors and investors shortly after the program concluded.

“The Global Consulting Program offered us excellent experience in working with live clients to help them with a specific business problem,” said Julia LaFountain, a senior who participated in the GCP. “It was challenging to complete this project virtually with students we had never met face-to-face with, but after presenting our business models to the client, it was clear that our ideas had sparked interest and would be of use in the future. Although we did not get to travel to São Paulo, we did gain an educational experience that has prepared us for life in the business world outside of college.”

January 14, 2021
Bri Schoepf