Student Story: Synchrony & Sam’s Club Consulting Project

by SMU Cox|

The Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement was pleased to partner with corporate member Synchrony on a fourth project during the fall 2019 semester. As a continued supporter of the Institute, senior leaders from Synchrony presented an opportunity for students to work on a project for one of their own clients: Sam’s Club.

Maran Nalluswami, General Manager of the Sam’s Club portfolio for Synchrony, said that the client team hoped to gain diverse perspectives by working with MBA consultants, and to learn from their approach to a business case.

This project was managed by four second-year MBA students who worked diligently to address a current business question: how to build preference for Sam’s Club memberships with millennials. “Every business today is looking at how they can attract the millennial population.  SMU Cox students were great to lead this program as they were in a stage of life which gave them the ability to relate between being millennials to potential consumers in a Sam’s Club market,” said Nalluswami.

Student consultants are selected to work on corporate projects based on their high-quality performance in Customer Engagement specialization courses. In addition to their full course schedule, student teams function as an in-house consulting agency, managing all project components including client communication, quantitative and qualitative research, deep data analysis, and development of strategic and tactical recommendations.

The team analyzed real, anonymized customer data, and consulted relevant industry research to understand the target consumer’s shopping habits and preferences. This analysis led to the development of insights and recommendations to increase customer engagement.

“This experience was a great way to apply lessons we’ve learned in the classroom as well as push us to find solutions outside of our coursework in order to deliver valuable work to the client,” said Emily Vanderstraaten, one of the student consultants. “There were a few unexpected factors that led us to adapt our recommendations throughout the process. These changes helped teach us how to be flexible and nimble in a short period of time.”

Results were presented to executives from both Synchrony and Sam’s Club on the SMU Cox campus, allowing the student team to showcase their deep understanding of the project ask, customer data and relevant recommendations. It is also an opportunity for students to build new professional relationships and practice skills in project management. As Nalluswami said, “It was a lot of fun getting to know the students and hear their stories on where they are going next. The companies that hire these students are truly lucky.”

Thank you to our trusted Synchrony clients for their continued partnership and support of experiential learning opportunities for student through the Brierley Institute: Bart Schaller, EVP/CMO and SMU Cox BBA graduate, and Kelli Nesseth, SVP/GM and SMU Cox BBA graduate.

If you are a student interested in Brierley Institute experiential learning opportunities, including coursework and consulting projects, click here.

If you are a professional interested in corporate partnership opportunities with the Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement, click here.