On November 9th, 170 graduate students and representatives from the Wharton Office of Student Life and MBA Career Management joined 50 consultants from 8 top firms for the annual Wharton Consulting Conference.
This year’s conference was held at the Hyatt at the Bellevue, and centered on the theme “The Innovation Frontier”. This theme emerged from discussions on dramatic economic, regulatory and social changes that have fundamentally changed the business climate, operating models and organizational environments. This upheaval has caused firms to re-examine their approach to innovation as a potential evolutionary tool, necessitating creative solutions from the consulting firms that serve them.
Ms. Elizabeth Powers, a Partner from Booz & Company, opened the conference with her morning keynote speech on her years of experience in healthcare, how to innovate as a consultant, and how to best serve clients. Her speech was followed by a dynamic Q&A session, moderated by Wharton Management Professor Rahul Kapoor.
Mr. Steven J. Van Kuiken, a Partner from McKinsey & Company, delivered the afternoon keynote address on the potential applications of “big data” in healthcare.
Throughout the day, consultants from Accenture, AT Kearney, Bain & Company, the Boston Consulting Group, Booz & Company, McKinsey & Company, Deloitte, and L.E.K. shared their experiences and insights on a wide range of topics. Panels covered business model innovation in the “new normal”, recruiting for consulting, and innovation trends in financial services, healthcare, retail, media and technology, among others.
Stephen Tapley of AT Kearney identified the value of the conference as the “diversity of panelists, student participation in panels, during networking pieces, and with keynote speakers. [With] the dual panel structure – all students got a sense of the topics and their importance.”
Tom Allison (WG’13) gave the student perspective: “The conference is a great opportunity not only to network, but also to learn about current trends in the industry. Coming from a military background, I knew I was interesting in consulting, but lacked the context to determine and articulate what I wanted to do as a consultant. The panel discussions and informal conversations helped me understand the types of problems that consultants are solving across industries, which proved invaluable during interviews.”
Finally, Christina Claudio (WG’13) summarized the experience and encouraged others to attend in the future: “Coming to Wharton I knew I wanted to pursue consulting, but I was starting from scratch with no contacts and no clue about what differentiated each firm. The Consulting Conference was a fantastic opportunity to make initial contacts in the industry, learn more about the consulting lifestyle and get my face and resume in front of company representatives. I highly recommend the conference as a “must go” for any First Year who thinks they may want to give consulting a try.”