The 180DC Project Experience Part 1: Early Expectations
Written by Sophie Allen and Hamish McLean
Lucy Johnson, Melbourne Juris Doctor Candidate and 180DC Team Leader, is used to juggling moving parts. She found time for our interview in between clerkship applications and negotiation competitions but still turned up with a calm demeanour and sunny attitude that affirmed why she’s a great fit for the role.
Why Team Leader?
Coming off the back of being a consultant last semester, Lucy said her team was amazing and her own Team Leader was “a boss”. Whilst inspiring, it also made her doubt whether she could fill those shoes.
But largely because of the fantastic experience she had last semester, Lucy decided to challenge herself to continue with 180DC and take on a leadership position. She says she’s glad she did because despite COVID-19 interrupting most things in life, 180DC activities have been able to seamlessly continue.
How’s the team this semester?
To quote Lucy,“They rock!”
A mixed bag of undergraduate Arts majors, MBA students who’ve worked in the marketing sphere, and even an optometrist - everyone brings something unique to the table. With such a range of expertise and knowledge, Lucy says her favourite part of consulting is learning from the rest of the team.
Currently in the midst of writing clerkship applications and having to answer the question: recount a time you’ve had trouble in a team, Lucy says with a laugh,“But I can't fault them!”
The scope is broad - improve marketing strategy. We can’t speak too much about the specifics due to confidentiality. However, Lucy says the client hasn’t been able to measure how effective their current marketing approach is, and need help streamlining marketing across their major stakeholder groups.
So what’s the strategy?
Employing some of the techniques her Team Leader taught her last semester, Lucy says the team first needs to take a step back. “We need to research the client and deep dive into industry trends, then go from there.” As Team Leader, her job is two-fold: managing the client’s expectations on one hand, and managing the consultants’ experience on the other.
Regarding the client, the first few meetings are critical in identifying where they want the strategy to go. Lucy says 180DC needs to ensure they deliver useful results that are pinpointed and not just a broad-brush approach to everything.
Regarding the consultants, Lucy says it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you first see the problem. Thus, the first three weeks are important for researching the issue and asking yourself: how can I find a way to solve this? Consultants tackle the project in two separate sub-teams so they’re not having to solve the whole problem at once.
Any predicted challenges?
At this stage, Lucy said they need to discern the problematic impacts of COVID-19 on their client’s practices and charitable giving in general.
Additionally, whilst Zoom is a useful tool, she also misses being able to meet the team in person. There’s nothing like sitting down to brainstorm and writing up ideas on the whiteboard.
Rebecca Waldron is a Masters of International Business student and a first-time consultant with 180DC. Having previously worked at OakTree, she has a keen interest and background in the NFP space.
First time being a consultant, how have you found the club so far?
Like many new 180DCers (including myself), Rebecca remarked on the “super welcoming culture.” It’s refreshing she declared, to be a part of a community where everyone is so interested in the work of the club and so willing to help out with any consulting questions she may have.
Let’s take a step back, why 180 to begin with?
As mentioned, Rebecca previously worked as a Victorian Project manager at OakTree and has experience advancing social causes. However, as she started her Master’s degree she reflected that she was interested in pursuing work that would fit in with her personality type and skill set. With 180DC’s truly global reputation and the branch’s very well respected experience amongst UniMelb students, she saw NFP consulting as a natural fit.
So you’re a few weeks into your project now, did you have any expectations going into it? How have you found the experience so far?
Similar to Lucy, Rebecca’s praise went automatically to her team. She remarked that “it’s the opposite of tutes,” everyone is so capable and switched on during team discussions. She specifically mentioned how impressed she’s been at the amount of work the team leaders put into developing the team. Importantly, they’re not just focusing on the output of the project but also ensuring that each member of the team is confident in the work they’re doing.
Beyond this, she’s been pleased with the quality of the training sessions they’ve had. All 180DC consultants undergo training run by leading professional consulting firms including BCG and Nous. As Rebecca reflected, it’s been great to receive such high-quality training and it's been even more rewarding to be able to then go on and directly apply that training to their project. For her, this has meant that “the project has been really quite alive in terms of the work we do.”
How’s the team chemistry going?
Again, Rebecca has nothing but praise. She says that the diversity of the team is helping to build the project’s momentum and direction. The team has a variety of experience levels and degree types, with some newer undergraduate students as well as some more mature postgraduate students. Despite the variety of backgrounds, she noted that the team is still very non-hierarchical and they’re able to brainstorm effectively together and jump in to help out with discussions.
Finally, next steps for the project?
As Lucy already mentioned, the team has been broken up into two smaller focus groups to help with the workload of the project. Rebecca added to this saying that they’re currently in the research stage and will be shifting to the higher-level strategy aspect of the project later on.