A Tale of Three Cities: MBA Students Take on Consulting Projects for Companies in Munich, Rio, and Shanghai

Tuesday, February 19, 2019TOPICS: International

USD MBA students hop on motorcycles at BMW Motorrad in Munich, GermanyUSD MBA students meet with PetroRio executives at their offices in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
begin quoteStudents were treated to a very dynamic, innovative and modern work environment which promoted collaboration and deep thinking. For many, this is the capstone experience of their MBA program.

During intersession, many of our USD School of Business MBA students embark on international adventures facilitated by the Ahlers Center for International Business. They not only explore new places and cultures, but have the opportunity to apply their skills and classroom lessons on a consulting project for real companies across various industries. This January, 48 of our MBA students traveled to three cities across three continents to complete 17 consulting projects with esteemed companies including BMW Motorrad, L’Oreal Brazil, Hilton Copacabana and more.

Munich, Germany

In Munich, Germany, students worked on developing marketing and sales strategies for BMW Motorrad and APIC Beam, an innovative startup company that has developed a patented hologram technology. At APIC Beam, students identified potential target markets by performing a market segmentation analysis and marketing communication plan.

Over at BMW Motorrad, one team focused on marketing strategies targeting Generation Y, also known as millennials, while a second team focused on strategies aimed at Generation Z. This was not the first year that USD’s MBA students consulted for BMW Motorrad though. Impressed with the project’s results, they continue to invite our students back. Having served as a mentor on this project, USD School of Business Professor of Marketing Andrea Godfrey Flynn shared, “It’s so much fun to see [the students] after they have a chance to share their findings and how excited they are. The feedback from the company was overwhelmingly positive.” See Professor Flynn give an overview of the project completed at BMW Motorrad in 2018.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, our MBA students completed eight projects alongside 20 MBA students from the COPPEAD Graduate School of Business. At Incentive.Me, a two-year-old incentive-tech startup ranked as the 5th most attractive startup by 100 Open Startup, students performed a comprehensive value analysis including estimates for discounted cash flows. Over at the tech startup company, Lemobs, students helped the owner and upper-level managers figure out how to attract new clients and whether to expand or focus their product mix.

Students didn’t just work on projects in the tech industry though, they also consulted for the small, privately-owned restaurant Verde Vicio, the multinational beauty company L’Oreal Brazil, and the NGO Saúde Criança. At the internationally-recognized Hilton Copacabana, students worked on two different consulting projects including one in which they created a tool to better manage staffing and productivity in the housekeeping and food and beverage departments.

USD School of Business Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Professor of Economics Stephen Conroy mentored students on the consulting project for PetroRio, a private company in the oil and natural gas extraction industry. “The PetroRio project was one of our best this year, as students were asked to perform a sophisticated market-research project comparing the liberalization of the natural gas industry across countries. The aim of this project was to assist PetroRio to position itself in the natural gas market as it liberalizes in Brazil over the next decade,” said Conroy. “Students were treated to a very dynamic, innovative and modern work environment which promoted collaboration and deep thinking. I believe PetroRio was pleased with the deliverables provided -- in fact, students were asked to present to the entire company the day after their official class presentation at COPPEAD.”

Shanghai, China

All the way on the other side of the world in Shanghai, China, students completed consulting projects for dgPower and Huber&Suhner, as well as projects for a major sports retailer, a large educational company, and others. dgPower is a brand that designs and produces officially licensed products featuring trademarks from prominent brands such as MARVEL, Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars. Using their inherent Western perspective, our student team was tasked with developing consumer profiles for Western audiences. Their final presentation included ideas for product development, communication strategies, and implementation tactics for international expansion into these Western markets.

Last but not least, the team at Huber&Suhner, a global innovation leader in providing connectivity solutions for aviation, new energy vehicles, and 5G communication, developed a strategy for expanding into the electric vehicle market. Their strategy included the identification of market opportunities, market size analysis, and mapping of important stakeholders.

At the USD School of Business, an emphasis on a global mindset reinforces the value we place on international opportunities that are created through cultural exchanges, classes abroad and international consulting projects. Through these one-of-a-kind opportunities, students put into practice the lessons and skills learned in the classroom here at USD and offer informed and sound business advice to major companies that are shaping the landscapes of their respective industries all around the world.


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658