With Hands-On Learning, Babson Student Consultants Give These Businesses a Boost

When it comes to building skills and applying knowledge for “the real world,” experiential learning opportunities matter. They’re hands-on, practical, and offer a chance for students to achieve tangible, achievable results.

Babson College students have an advantage thanks to the real-world learning opportunities offered year-round. Every semester, companies rely on Babson graduate student teams to consult on important and relevant business challenges.

Students contribute fresh thinking, teamwork, leadership, and solutions that can help companies advance and grow. In this two-part series, we talked to five partner companies to hear how Babson students benefited their businesses.

1. Visa

Everyone knows Visa. With over 20,000 employees in more than 200 countries, it’s one of the largest payment processors in the world. Visa’s partnership with Graduate Experiential Learning Programs, including the Babson Consulting Experience (BCE), has been an aligned and positive, according to Gilberto Chaparro MBA’11, general manager for Visa Peru. Chaparro (MBA’11) is based in Lima, and has ties to Babson’s Blended Learning program in Miami, where Babson has had a presence since 2020.

There are a number of ways Babson students collaborate with Visa. Getting hands-on experience with loyalty programs, index analysis, and strategic growth in new verticals are just a few. Most importantly, Chaparro says, students bring a “fresh mind,” to the table, and aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo.

“Bringing that entrepreneurial mindset definitely helps us accelerate in our business, (and) helps us also innovate more—not only doing new things, but changing the things that are in place that can be done in a different way.”

2. The Great Bubble Barrier

Plastic is filling up our oceans fast. But, The Great Bubble Barrier is on a mission to solve the plastic problem by trapping trash before it gets to the ocean. Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and finalist for the 2022 Earthshot Prize, its technology captures plastic in rivers by using an innovative bubble curtain.

In an industry where policy and legislature play a major role in how quickly things get accomplished, Babson graduate students saved the Bubble Barrier team time and effort on other essential segments of the business. In the spring semester, students worked to uncover new target markets, outline the company’s current stakeholder landscape, and outline current regulations already in place.

“The new generation’s brain power and ambition always brings something new to the table,” account executive Annika Breedveld said.

3. Tiny Spoon Chef

Imagine having a personal chef who makes fresh and nutritious meals for your household—except you don’t have to be a celebrity. That’s the idea Janice Carte had when she started Tiny Spoon Chef in 2013. Thanks to the collaboration with Babson graduate students in fall 2022, she gained valuable insights for the growth and development for Tiny Spoon Chef, which is now in more than 10 locations.

Babson student consulting teams gained hands-on learning experiences, taking on challenges such as client and talent acquisition, and drawing insights from raw data analysis. Students also identified markets for growth and scale, and in the spring semester, developed social media marketing strategies for Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

“It was most interesting to work with people who are completely unfamiliar with my business,” said Carte, chef and founder. “Just hearing the types of questions they were asking, being able to reflect on the answers, and then responding to the reactions gave me additional insight into my business,” she said.

“The new generation’s brain power and ambition always brings something new to the table.”Annika Breedveld, The Great Bubble Barrier

4. Inclusive Fitness

For Greg and Kristina Austin, both MBA’01, fitness is personal. The husband-and-wife team developed the idea of Inclusive Fitness in Boston after seeing that traditional gyms and sports programs fell short—especially when it came to people like their son, Lucas, who is autistic. Their goal? Creating a welcoming fitness community for neurodivergent people.

Having Babson students on their side this year was a major benefit. Babson students consulted on market research, location analysis, operational streamlining, and entrepreneurial financing. “Having a fresh set of eyes look at what we do and ask challenging questions simply makes us think about how we can get better,” Greg Austin said. And, the curiosity paid off. “There were some very important transformative ideas that came through our working together.”

Pat Scanlon MSEL’23, who was hired as Strategic Growth Manager by Inclusive Fitness after graduation, said, “The overall experience exceeded my expectations. It presented me the opportunity to bring out my knowledge, skills, and professionalism that I spent developing throughout my graduate career.”

5. Clarks

In this first year that Clarks, the nearly 200-year-old shoe brand, worked with Babson, new CEO Jonathan Ram MBA’08 called it “a natural fit.”

“The students did an amazing job digging into our business, researching existing tools and proposing new ideas,” Ram said. Babson teams worked to build strategies and plans around digital, DEI, sustainability, retail, marketing, international, and distribution segments. Students had the chance to ask frank questions, engage in conversation, and speak directly with Ram in one-to-one sessions over the course of the semester.

“Perhaps the most eye-opening has been the excitement and energy we have injected in our global business as a result of the Babson relationship,” Ram said. He noted how important an entrepreneurial mindset is for business, and how discussions around future-proofing the brand and continuing to engage with Babson have emerged. “Any company or brand that endures 200 years does not do so by standing still.”

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