Map of the world with white lines spanning between continents

Consulting Across Barriers and Borders

In years without pandemic protocols, honors students enrolled in the Business Leadership and Communication (BA 308H) course enjoy face-to-face consulting opportunities with local organizations like the Eugene Emeralds—a minor-league baseball team—and Lane County breweries, among many other groups.

This summer, Eric Boggs, Lundquist College of Business instructor and director of the Business Honors Program, took pandemic-related teaching restrictions as an opportunity to provide consultancy experiences much farther afield—in Brazil. Boggs was also recently recognized with a Remote Teaching Award from UO Provost Patrick Phillip. The award recognized Boggs for successfully transforming traditional, face-to-face courses into remote teaching environments while maintaining the qualities we value at the University of Oregon.

Through partnerships facilitated by Boggs and campus b—an international organization supporting experiential learning experiences abroad—six groups of students from BA 308H worked with five different organizations based in the South American country.

Those organizations ranged from grassroots nonprofits to the Brazilian equivalent of IKEA, and one partnering organization requested two student projects.

Haley Thayer, a junior in the Clark Honors College majoring in economics with a planned minor in finance, said her biggest takeaway from the course is that consultancy and client work are processes rather than destinations, and that there’s no such thing as a quick solution.

“Ideas are always evolving forward,” she said.

Each week, conclusions were reached by Thayer and her student colleagues as they hosted and facilitated virtual Zoom calls with their clients. The students presented a situational analysis to Boggs mid-term, as well as a scope and statement of work, helping them commit to what they could produce in the following five weeks, Boggs said.

When choosing projects for students, client support was a priority for Boggs. Students needed to demonstrate a willingness to commit to the class time as well as the workflow schedule. Projects also needed to be challenging but reasonable in scope for students.

“I really wanted it to be dynamic and something that was difficult for them to solve,” Boggs said. “Yet, it needed to be achievable. That’s a tough balance.”

Boggs also wanted the organizations he partnered with to share such values as diversity, equity, inclusion, creating a circular economy model, cutting carbon emissions, and increased access to education.

“It was important to me to make sure the organizations, companies, and nonprofits had a focus on using business tools to make the world better through social change and social impact,” Boggs said.

Additional work performed by students during the course included data analysis, solutions-focused research, and a client presentation—performed successfully through language barriers and time-zone differences.

Nicole Lang, a Lundquist College junior pursuing a bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in marketing, said the course was challenging, and it helped her grow.

“With the help of my amazing team, we were able to present an amazing deliverable at the end,” she said.

Anjali Chopra, a junior in business administration minoring in legal studies, said that remote consulting showed her the importance of effective communication through language constraints and using appropriate body language over Zoom.

“When giving presentations virtually, body language conveys a lot to your client, so showing your best self allows the client to be more engaged and energized during your presentation,” she said.

Like many instructors who taught remotely during the pandemic, Boggs said the educational outcomes exceeded his expectations.

“I was really impressed with the way that the students managed the client interactions,” he said. “They took ownership of those calls despite their emergent experience. Students really came together as a group so they could be collectively greater than the sum of their parts.”

BA 308H remote study abroad consultancy opportunities were made possible in part with support from the Rasmussen Fund for Global Initiatives, which was established by alumnus Greg Rasmussen.

—William Kennedy, Lundquist College Communications