When Current Events Become Coursework

Working at a laptop

A former CEO and consultant, lecturer Bret Bero P’14 regularly brings real-world examples from his career into the classroom.

Students who take his Management Consulting course study financials from his former companies. The goal, he says, is to take on a project as if you were a hired consultant. No dated case studies. Just real data.

“At the end of the course, students should have a much better appreciation for how consultants are able to come and help companies address critical issues,” he shared.

That approach became even more valuable and relevant in Babson’s shift to a virtual campus in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As classes moved online, remote work became the norm in companies around the world. Bero pivoted his assignments to reflect the times.

One such assignment: exploring how remote work would impact a consultant’s first year. “I told the students to think about how they would need to join a firm—really any firm, not just a consulting firm—and work remotely, without really knowing anyone within the firm.”

A skilled practitioner, Bero has his own take on how challenges like remote work become opportunities. “My hypothesis is the nature of the job doesn’t change. The manner of the job changes.”

His students, however, saw and highlighted challenges. How to land a job in this economy. How to network in a remote environment. How to build professional relationships from a distance.

But, that wasn’t all.

They also recognized that, yes, the manner of a consultant’s job would need to shift, too.

Like Alex Howard ’20. Passionate about management consulting, he saw the shift of his course as reflective of his future career path. “I began to view it as an opportunity to develop my online learning and collaboration skills. I think the new normal of many industries, especially consulting, will be an expectation that employees can quickly move their work online and be equally as effective. I believe the transition in this course helped me prepare for that greatly.”

“Babson graduates are in a unique position to exploit the opportunity that comes from this challenge,” said Bero. “Employers are going to be looking for people who can plug in from day one. Having the entrepreneurial mindset is a huge advantage.”

To lean in to the disruption, lean on faculty, says Bero. “Babson has faculty that have a blend of both academic and practitioner backgrounds. That means students can speak with faculty who have been through these business situations. I talk to students all the time about it. That’s the Babson advantage.”

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