By Melanie Sherman, MSADA Class of 2022
Before I started the MS in Accounting with Data Analytics (MSADA) program, I never imagined that I would be delivering an hour-long presentation to a CEO within a few short months. While I had interned for several summers at different firms, I had little direct interaction with clients on the job. I knew that I would learn the technical hard skills I needed in my courses, but I felt I was lacking in my experience with client interactions.
BUS-A569 Field Consulting is one of most valuable courses Kelley’s Graduate Accounting Program has to offer and unlike any class I have ever taken before. All learning, work, and meetings are conducted outside of a classroom. Each team was assigned a client and performed real work to solve the client’s problems and see a client engagement through from start to finish. In teams of two MSADA students and two 3/2 MBA students, we operated much like client service teams at public accounting firms do. Each week we would meet with the client, internally within our own team, and with our professor who acted as the team’s Partner.
Our team was assigned a small, but fast-growing communications firm as our client. Though the firm has less than 20 employees, it works with companies like Disney and IBM. As the company continued to grow, its internal processes became unclear. Our team was tasked with creating a flowchart to document client processes from when leads are generated through the close of a deal, identifying possible risk areas and potential solutions. In addition, our team was asked to investigate international tax registration and compliance requirements in countries where the firm is interested in increasing business.
Luckily, our team worked extremely well together. As students from both 3/2 MBA and MSADA, we had conflicting schedules and numerous other obligations, but together we had a well-rounded skillset with strengths in each other’s weaker points. We trusted each other to get our work done with high quality and held each other accountable. With our tasks in hand, we hit the ground running.
As the weeks passed, we reviewed our client’s communications training, interviewed employees of the company, conducted international tax research, and communicated preliminary findings with the client. We documented our work and upcoming tasks in Microsoft Teams so that our “Partner” could monitor our progress.
Our final deliverable was a 70-page document, complete with international tax analysis for over four use cases in three different countries, process flowchart documentation, and several identified potential problem areas and associated recommendations. We first presented for 90 minutes in great detail to most of the employees of the company. We then condensed our presentation into high-level takeaways to present to the company’s CEO, a feat I never imagined I would have accomplished at 22.
The CEO was gracious enough to provide us with valuable feedback on the content we delivered in addition to our presentation styles. Other employees of the company expressed how they had already begun implementing some of our recommendations. Based on the success of our client engagement, my team advanced to the finals where we presented to a group of judges and defended our work.
My Field Consulting experience is one I will never forget. I now feel even more prepared to enter the workforce with this valuable experience under my belt. In just a few months, my team was able to create meaningful work for the client and form lifelong friendships with each other.