Senior Business Fellows learn about the world of management consulting

As part of the Business Fellows Senior Capstone Seminar, students consulted for Feather, Impact Fulfillment Services and Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream.

Fourteen members of the Elon Business Fellows Class of 2020 applied the knowledge and skills gained while at Elon to consulting projects for Feather, Impact Fulfillment Services and Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream.

During their senior year, Business Fellows split into two groups for capstone seminars. One group learned about portfolio management with Assistant Professor of Finance Adam Aiken, while the other group gained consulting experience in a course led by Assistant Professor of Management Scott Hayward. This semester, the consulting group worked on projects relating to brand and social media management practices, marketing research, and business expansion operations.

The Feather team helped the company gain insight into the buying behavior of Generation Z, specifically related to subscription services. Feather is a furniture rental subscription service, founded by Jay Reno ’10, an Elon Business Fellow alumnus. The students used their marketing research skills to perform secondary research and surveyed Elon students as well as students at other universities to gain consumer insights.

“I am excited to see how our research and work that we will provide to Feather at the end of the semester will allow Feather to grow and expand their business,” Lauren Ramos ’20, an accounting major, said. “Each of my group members sees the need and opportunity for Feather to grow throughout the country, especially as we will each be needing to furnish our own apartments post-grad.”

Impact Fulfillment Services (IFS), a company providing outsourced contract packaging and distribution services, tasked the fellows with creating B2B marketing ideas. Working closely with Irene Scharmack, president of Supply Chain Services at IFS, the Business Fellows offered a comprehensive review of all materials, from IFS’ pitch deck templates to its social media posts and website.

For Grayson Albers ’20, “This was an incredible opportunity to take what we learned in the classroom and apply it to a project for a client. I am excited to see how our work can be valuable for IFS. Hopefully we will even see them utilize some of our materials on their website and on social media!”

The team working with Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream, located in downtown Elon and Burlington, N.C., helped the client by developing a social media user manual to act as a resource on how the brand should appear on social media and engage with new and recurring customers.

“We hope that the end product will shape what people think of when they hear the Smitty’s brand name and will affect what customers are saying about the brand,” Kaleigh Studdert ’20, a finance and marketing double major, said. “We included mock social media posts, general tips and tricks, and step-by-step instructions on how to create and upload certain types of content.”

At the end of the spring semester, each consulting team created executive summaries and virtual presentations with their findings and recommendations for their clients.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and location of the clients, most of the work was completed in remote team settings. Given that the clients ranged from New York to California, the mix of on-site and virtual experiences reflect the future of business, Hayward noted.

“I’m extremely impressed with the Business Fellows this semester,” Hayward said. “They showed tremendous initiative, perseverance and professionalism under difficult circumstances. That’s not just my opinion. Each client reached out to complement the students for their ideas. And each client wants to work with the Business Fellows program on future projects. This class is a testimony to our student’s ability to partner with the business community.”

In addition to this semester’s consulting work, the fellows completed projects last fall for Feather, Elon’s Office of Admissions and Benevolence Farm. For Feather, the fellows researched cities they believed would be best for the company to expand to based on surrounding universities and the need for people to furnish their apartments. To help Elon’s student admissions process, the fellows presented recommendations on whether the Office of Admissions should change its process to recruit higher achieving students. For Benevolence Farm, the fellows strategized how the farm could best use its products to provide a more stable revenue stream.

The Business Fellows program, directed by Tina Das, the Lincoln Financial Professor of Economics, prepares students to be innovative leaders in the competitive and dynamic world of business by blending classroom learning and real-world experience. The program’s signature experiences include a strategically designed four-year career development plan, company visits in New York to engage with executives and gain insight into specific industries and organizations, two weeks abroad as part of a Business Fellows global business course, and managing a $300,000 portfolio or consulting for a company as part of the Senior Capstone Seminar.