Same-day delivery services have seen demand surge in the wake of the pandemic.
And, though business is booming, such unprecedented demand brings unforeseen challenges, and much less time for these companies to be thinking long-term strategy and innovation.
Yet, this spring, before coronavirus swept the United States, Babson MBA students already were thinking big with client partners, including one major Target-owned delivery service, as part of a signature Babson course.
One five-person MBA team worked with the C-suite at Shipt to help advance its focus on long-term strategy while day-to-day efforts took overwhelming priority for the company.
Named the Babson Consulting Experience (BCE), this required Babson MBA course is an opportunity for students to learn about organizations big and small, from the inside out, and to work with leading executives to solve real business needs.
“One of the most valuable parts of this project for me was the time (our client team) gave us, to pinpoint ideas and work through them together,” said Andrea Roig MBA’21. “They were really just as engaged as we were and were really open to sharing key insights into their corporate strategy, which really helped us structure the project.”
“Shipt’s business was booming and Studio-E shifted their entire business online,” added Robbie Rapson MBA’21. “In spite of this, Liselle and Nate gave us an unbelievable amount of time. I truly appreciate the opportunity to learn from them.”
This client team, including Kelly Caruso, CEO of Shipt, Liselle Christian, chief of staff for Shipt, and Nate Garvis, co-founder of Studio/E, formerly of Target, and senior fellow at Babson’s Lewis Institute for Social Innovation, felt a similar appreciation for this access and collaboration.
“This is the first time Shipt has worked with a student consulting team like this,” shared Christian. “Being able to tap into brilliant young minds and do so to provide mutual benefit … this definitely won’t be the last time we participate.”
Roig, Rapson, and classmates Priyanka Menon MBA’21, Qianhan Zhang MBA’21, and Rahul Vajir MBA’21, were tasked with tackling Shipt’s desire to better integrate sustainability efforts into its business model. They did so with the help of Senior Lecturer and faculty lead for this course Dwight Gertz.
“We can accomplish a lot in a classroom, but there is so much more to learn when our students work directly with senior executives on a real problem,” said Gertz. “Our involuntary move to working online also gave the students an opportunity to be pioneers in the rapidly developing art and science of getting things done without getting together.”
With a slew of ideas in mind, and an upcoming face-to-face, design-thinking workshop with Shipt, the pandemic hit, Shipt’s flights were canceled, and classes moved online.
Though the workshop was held virtually, the team still found extreme value in this exercise and landed on one idea to pitch the company—a sustainable packaging system featuring collapsible, returnable boxes.
Garvis, who has worked with Babson since The Lewis Institute’s inception, shared his excitement in seeing so much of its mission embodied in the students’ work.
That is what it’s all about, he said. “Growing business leaders and launching ideas that bring better health to our world and our communities … value creation and values brought together.”
For Christian, working with Babson students allowed her the time and space to pull away from the day to day “to think about the big picture,” she said. On top of dealing with the pandemic, “we were in the midst of strategic planning, and the students helped get my mindset there.”
Luckily, their work doesn’t have to stop even though the project has ended. Shortly after semester’s end, Roig joined Shipt as an intern.
Right around the time her team made their final pitch, Roig reached out to Christian to inquire about how the company would bring the idea to life and to learn more about opportunities at Shipt.
“I give her a lot of kudos for that … it’s part of why we wanted to bring her on board,” said Christian. “It’ll be good to have her on the team, for fresh thinking and to help accelerate this project from prototyping and ideation, to next steps.”