Consultants in the Making

A strategic collaboration between LAU students and Kearney aims to enhance students’ readiness for careers in consulting.

By Raissa Batakji

Karam delivering a workshop on consulting skills on the Byblos campus on March 23.

As job-market readiness has become a priority for students, given the fierce competition in an unstable economy, students have to find and often create their own opportunities to gain a professional edge.

At LAU, a dedicated team of advisors at the Career Development Services help students maximize their chances in the workplace and bolster their professional profiles, through assistance in CV writing and workshops to strengthen their soft skills, and by providing real-world business cases to practice problem-solving, among others.

This academic year, a student-led initiative in collaboration with Kearney, a global management consulting firm, stood out as a unique win-win effort that benefitted students and elevated their profiles, while impacting a number of local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Kearney, which has been actively engaging with and recruiting LAU students, recently joined forces with the LAU branch of 180 Degrees Consulting to collaborate with 40 LAU student consultants on projects it conducts pro bono for NGOs.

The club is part of a larger global network whereby students leverage their skills in providing opportunities for growth and tackling challenges faced by NGOs and social enterprises.

In one project with Kearney, the students devised innovative fundraising solutions for the Lebanese Food Bank by crafting a comprehensive strategy that helped the non-profit appeal to donors with a transparent donation-management structure. In another project, the students drafted a volunteer recruitment plan for DAFA, an NGO that leads donation drives for underprivileged communities.

The company advisors worked closely with the students. Frequent meetings took the form of personalized mentorship that guided the students from initial drafts to final deliverables.

“Together,” said Kearney associate and alumnus Joe Karam (BE’15; MS’19), “we are not only making a tangible difference in the lives of those we serve but also instilling in the students a sense of purpose and empowering them to use their skills for meaningful social impact.”

By guiding the students, added Karam, Kearney not only helps them gain technical skills but also introduces them to consulting methodologies, problem-solving approaches, and strategic thinking, which they could apply in consulting jobs or other fields.

The club’s president, Rachel-Jane Ballouz, said that working on the projects offered “invaluable lessons in effective leadership, teamwork and strategic decision-making, as well as leveraging diverse perspectives to address intricate challenges.”

For Mery Derjani, the club’s vice president, organizational management, stakeholder engagement, and problem-solving were among the skills she learned. A key takeaway for her was the importance of adapting to uncertainties when driving positive change.

While the students hold “great potential to become consultants at any firm,” said Karam, “they still need the right toolkit and training to develop adequate client deliverables.”

This, he added, will hopefully be addressed through a series of tailored training workshops that Kearney has already launched for students at LAU.