– By Shikha
Wake up at 6am.
Go through the day’s agenda and get ready in the next one and half hour.
Get on the 7:45 am jeepney , a jeep converted vehicle that is one of the usual public transport in the Philippines.
This is the typical morning hours of a business day when each of the groups goes and visits their clients. I was quite excited when I learnt that I would be consulting with an eco-park but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have any apprehensions about this consulting engagement. The first inevitable thought that crossed my mind was that how could I ,an inexperienced consultant, benefit the organization in some ways (FYI: this was one of the broad assessment criteria for this course)? Or, would they even want any help?
From the information that I had gathered about the eco-park before talking to the management ,coupled with my naivety about the true nature of the organization , it looked robust and self sustainable. I had probably fallen prey to the idea of ‘too big to fail’ or, in other words, the impossibility of an organization to fail when there’s seemingly a functioning management in place and which is backed up by another successful organization. But I was mistaken in several aspects of my preliminary analysis of the organization. There are several challenges that are faced by the organization ,which ,in fact, is also a CSR initiative, among which inability to achieve self-sustainability was one of them. It would’ve been much simpler if we just asked them to be more sustainable but this isn’t what consulting is about. After identifying the problems plaguing the organization, we are supposed to propose some workable recommendations and consult with the management again.
It seemed like a mammoth task to take up and there was this inner voice incessantly screaming in my head that this task is close to impossible. This probably gave way to some frustrations when it looked like we had reached dead-end. However, hours of productive brainstorming actually gave rise to some innovative and realistic ideas. Having written a term paper on CSR last semester, I was able to set a vision of what exactly we wanted to achieve. The sorry affair of the corporate culture is to set up dubious CSR initiatives with no specific goals. But our team of consultants was determined to have a CSR plan in place that would have a greater positive spill-over to the society. The recommendations that we are working on has made us go beyond the four-walls of the discussion room and out to the streets for collecting data and interacting with several customers. We also visited the Department of Education for discussing the feasibility of one of our recommendations and the visit was definitely fruitful as we were able to develop the recommendation even more.
This experience of consulting with the business has been challenging yet an enriching one. In this short period of time I have learnt to deal with friendly as well as difficult people to get your work done, learnt about the different challenges and opportunities that face a business/organization and have done some networking. Another perk of working on this particular project is that we are working alongside other local university students. It is amazing to work with them because of the business as well as cultural immersion that takes place between the two university groups.
student consultants gathering feedback from customers
This post has predominantly been about the consulting project but I would like to fill you in on some lighter state of affairs. You might be wondering what we do on our non-business days apart from brainstorming. Well actually quite a lot! We have an ongoing book reading club every Thursdays , sessions with some eco-tourism officials and trips to the islands which is a package of fun and learning.
Lunch after meeting the clients
As for the weather in Guimaras, it’s raining quite heavily right now which calls for a hot glass of milo (which happens to be my new favourite drink) .