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What I Learned From My MBA Consulting Project With British Gas

Nupur Sikka had plenty of business experience before starting her MBA. But doing a live consulting project with British Gas opened her eyes to new ways of thinking

New business innovations can often resemble quirky fashion trends: here today, gone tomorrow. Keeping up with the pace of change requires a real-time understanding of business. That’s why you can benefit from doing live consulting projects during your MBA.

Nupur Sikka had six years of experience in corporate law, and launched her own software development startup in India, before she joined the MBA at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) in the UK.

She pursued an MBA to accelerate her goal of moving into a strategy consulting role, eager to gain an overall perspective of business.

For the final class of the LUMS MBA, students take part in a six-week Corporate Challenge, working in groups on live consulting projects for selected organizations. Nupur was matched with British Gas and worked with three teammates in London to deliver solutions for the company.

Here’s what she learned:

Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork

At the start of the project, Nupur and her team were tasked with addressing the real issues British Gas faces today: what other industries were achieving, how the company could leverage other startup businesses, and how it could incorporate business solutions to drive growth.

The team would then share its progress with British Gas every week and present their findings.

Despite her experience, Nupur was one of the youngest in the group and she was unfamiliar with the work of her colleagues from other sectors and with real-time data.

Instead of fixating on the team’s differences however, Nupur says that combining everyone’s skills and levels of experience, as well as working with the senior corporate professionals from British Gas, proved to be a successful solution.

“I’ve never been led by someone before,” she says. “I mostly lead people. So, I saw a very different perspective of doing things.”

Nupur has already taken that on board when communicating with her business partner, who currently lives in the US. She says that, in the past, their different viewpoints meant they would often clash. Now, she’s able to appreciate his way of thinking rather than see it as a clash of ideas.

“You learn to collaborate, discuss, and appreciate other people’s ideas more. That’s what I feel has changed within me,” she says.

Testing out new ideas

Nupur and her team were also tasked with an insurance project for British Gas. They were initially against conducting a consumer survey to determine the type of products consumers would want from the company.

They quickly rectified their mistake once they realized they were missing this vital piece of information. This learning process has helped to develop Nupur’s mindfulness moving forward in her career.

“I am now not just focused on what the client wants but what the consumer will be looking for,” she says.

“Everything is becoming customer-centric so having that perspective is very important. It helped me to develop a wider picture of working practices and the organization.”

Nupur also took part in business management and entrepreneurship challenges during her MBA, where she worked through case studies and developed an overall picture of getting into business.

The MBA experience as a whole, she says, is preparing her for the strategy consulting role she wants in the future.

“You can’t be 100% prepared for anything, but the MBA gives you an idea and perspective to take on when you enter into the real world,” she says. “During your MBA, you can be wild with your ideas—think, experiment, and test them.”

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