Building a Strategy to 2X Revenue in 12 Months – Alvaro’s Strategy Sprint Experience

Alvaro joins us to share his takeaways from Strategy Sprint, Management Consulted’s 1-week virtual consulting project. Listen to learn how he and his MBB-led case team collaborated to build a strategy to help their client achieve its goal to double revenue in 12 months.

You’ll hear about the training Alvaro’s team received (3:16), what the consulting engagement looked like (5:26), how the MBB mentorship helped (10:34), the team’s findings for the client (13:19), and his biggest takeaways from the experience (17:29). The next Sprint is coming up from May 23-27. Spots are selling fast – apply today.

Listen here or on your preferred podcast channel, and see a full transcription below.

Transcription

MC

Alvaro, I’m excited to welcome you to Strategy Simplified. Thanks for joining us.

Alvaro

Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.

MC

Absolutely. First, can you kick us off with an overview of your background, the steps along your journey that have led you to being where you are now?

Alvaro

Yeah, absolutely. I’m a continuous improvement manager based in Calgary, Canada. And for the past four years, I’ve been leading implementation projects in the areas of operational excellence and some strategic initiatives with C-suite. And the areas where I’ve been working on or sort of the industry, it’s the fertilizer industry, and there’s also some chemical industries associated to that as well.

I’m originally from Peru. The first half of my career I spent in Lima. And I worked for Fortune 500 companies such as Procter and Gamble and Microsoft before immigrating to Canada. And while I was here, I went to Queen’s University in Ontario to pursue my MBA and I then decided to get certified as a Lean Six Sigma practitioner and got my Black Belt certification, which, all in all, it’s the toolbox that I have for what I do today.

MC

Awesome. Okay, well, you’ve got a lot going on and you’ve done a lot in your career. That’s awesome. So you were a consultant in Management Consulted’s Strategy Sprint in May 2021. That’s a one week consulting project where you’re put on a team to solve a real world problem for a real client. I’m curious, what is the problem that your team was tasked to solve?

Alvaro

So basically, this was in the tourism space, a destination management company (DMC) based in Japan was looking to expand their existing operations in the US. They wanted to double their revenue in the next 12 months. That was the prompt for our case.

MC

Okay, simple enough. Double revenue in one year. Before I get to the actual work you did for the client in the project week, before that, you received some skills training and you got to apply that in a case competition with your team and your project leader. How did the training and the case competition help you during the project week?

Alvaro

I have to be very transparent; our team won that competition. [laughs) So I was really excited! Right off the bat, we were already winners. So it was really exciting to put in practice, because what the first round of competition does is, it’s a quick way to implement a lot of the learnings that you have gone through in such a short period of time, and put it in context in a smaller scope kind of thing.

The structured approach to be able to clarify the scope of the work, start with that hypothesis up front instead of trying to boil the ocean with all the many aspects of the problem, and then being able to break the problem into pieces that then became workstreams was really, really helpful, along with the whole Pyramid structure approach to how you actually package and present the end result. Having that in mind was really helpful not just for the competition itself, but for full week that we had following that up.

MC

That’s a lot of the feedback that we hear as well, the Pyramid Principle way of communicating and structuring. It’s often the most helpful thing that people get out of the training. I’m glad to hear that helped you and I’m sure it’s serving you beyond just the one week experience as well. Alright, let’s get to the project week. Can you walk us walk us through that? What did you do, exactly?

Alvaro

We had the very first meeting with the client. We had an opportunity to prepare some questions with the prompt in mind, and then the week went so fast. Basically, we had the opportunity to understand the problem after the client meeting, build that hypothesis and break the problem into work streams. So basically, how are we going to double the revenue levels in 12 months? What are the issues and opportunities that we can leverage?

There was a lot of research work throughout the week and then we split that work into work streams. So personally, I was in charge of the capabilities section in terms of how are we going to make sure that we have the right boots on the ground to support that growth? And where in the US would make sense to expand to so that we can support that growth?

The other two extremes were related to understanding the market dynamics. mainly looking at product differentiation, are we at par or subpar when it came to our product offering, and then some of the partnerships within that space that were required for that growth. What was really important throughout that period is those touch points. So the team would work and meet basically every other day, if not every day, throughout the week, but then we also had one on ones with, in our case, a former BCG consultant, who was the team lead.

And then closer to day four, between three or four, I can’t remember, we had a check in with what would be the Partner role in that project, where we had already fleshed out the hypotheses and understood where the levers for this growth were. We had an opportunity to be challenged about our assumptions, whether we had the right data supporting some of these recommendations, and then thankfully, we didn’t have to change that much. I want to say we probably needed to add 30% on top of what we had already done to get it to the finish line.

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MC

Okay, sounds like your team was very busy that week and there’s a lot to unpack here. You mentioned your meetings with the team – what was it like to interact with your team specifically, and how many people were on your team?

Alvaro

There were seven people on my team. We had an opportunity to work either in pairs, or as an individuals, on our four different work streams. So typically, most teams would not necessarily have seven, but five or six, so we were the anomaly in that regard. Some other teams had five or six team members. In our case, it helped with the workload.

It was really interesting. We had experienced professionals like myself and there was another fellow in the US, but most of the team members were outside the US. We also had some PhD students, some recent MBA grads or current MBAs, and we all had to learn from each other. There were different work styles, different time zones. It was really interesting to quickly understand, Okay, what are the tools that we need to use to effectively collaborate, and then what are the ways that we can share our insights without having to wait for the next scheduled meeting? We were very nimble in that way.

We were really results-oriented from that perspective, and I think everybody realized that the week was going by so fast. We could see the progress live on the deck, because we used Google Docs for that, and we could see that, Oh, you’re going in this direction, this is how my work can support that opinion and we can connect in-between meetings.

MC

That’s awesome. Earlier, you mentioned the daily check-ins with an MBB consultant, in your case, a former BCG consultant – how impactful were those meetings and your interactions with that former consultant?

Alvaro

On a personal level, one of the reasons I wanted to do this is to test my skill-set in a different environment outside of the bubble of your work, your industry, and your team. And it was really important to have those one-on-ones so that I could test whether the way I was thinking about solving the problem was the right one, how we could really leverage each other’s work, and then also, our team lead would provide us with some guidance in terms of feedback on the spot in terms of, Yeah, this is great, keep doing that, don’t waste your time over here, be more diligent about this, more thoughtful about these other pieces that will yield a better result for what we’re trying to achieve.

So it really brought it home, that feeling that you’re actually working for a client in an MBB environment. And you’re living it because these guys have been there, done that. And they’re leading us through that same schedule and process and speed of things.

MC

Absolutely. So you got to experience what it would be like to work on an actual consulting engagement. That’s awesome.

At the end of the project, your team got to present its findings and recommendations from the week to your client. Can you share the recommendations that you made and the projected impact for the client?

Alvaro

Yeah, so at the end of the week, at the end of day five, we were able to come up with a sound recommendation that would allow our client to reach $6 million in revenue, which would mean doubling the revenue in the span of 12 months. We thought through that, using the Pyramid Principle, from three main angles. Number one, product differentiation, number two, partnerships, number three, internal capabilities.

And with each of them, we had what is the process that needed to happen and why we thought that was the right approach, backed by our research and data analysis. And so, from a product differentiation standpoint, one of the interesting things we found was that they were trying to be positioned as a luxury product, yet their offering, either in terms of the makeup of it, how it was being packaged, as well as their pricing, was subpar. So, we obviously wanted to make sure that they brought along a different set of offerings that was more in line with the US market expectations.

To achieve that, we wanted them to establish some key partnerships in some of the other areas. So they had a small office in New York, and we suggested that they open new operations on the West Coast and that they hire an initial team on the West Coast, not just out of New York.

And then last but not least, in terms of internal capabilities, our recommendation had to do with their online presence. From a branding, search engine optimization standpoint, website, positioning, etc., there was a lot to be done. It looked like they were still relying on some of the materials coming out of Japan that needed to be customized for the US market, something that other Japanese competitors in the US had already done, so we had examples that showed the gap that needed to be improved.

MC

Absolutely. Did you get to present as well in that final presentation?

Alvaro

Yeah, I had an opportunity to quickly present. We divided the presentation and presented our own work stream. So that was neat from that standpoint, just the way we split the work, we owned the work stream, we owned that piece of the recommendation, and we owned the data behind it. So it was really easy for us to just jump in to that piece of the presentation, in case any questions would come up from the client, in this case. We were ready and prepared to respond to those because we became subject matter experts on that piece.

MC

Absolutely. You got some experience in slide building and presenting to C-suite. For you, what was your biggest takeaway from the whole experience?

Alvaro

I had an opportunity to reflect on that a few months ago, and today, I work on the same nature of projects, presenting in front of the CEO or one of his presidents or VPs or direct reports. It has helped me bridge the gap between what I’m able to achieve in-house without bringing in external consultants. The point here is, as an organization, we typically had relied a lot on bringing in external consultants because they had the know-how and the ability to come in very quickly, break down the problem, solve it, and package it in a way that the C suite would understand it and accept it and go ahead with the recommendation.

So if you haven’t gone through this type of training, in terms of how to do the same for your own projects, you’re always gonna fall short in terms of how you communicate it and how you present it, from the hypothesis, to every slide being an action-oriented slide, to having a key recommendation, and having three pillars for your main recommendation. And there’s data that backs it up and that makes it all sound and easier to tell the story about what you’re trying to present and influence. That is something that, very early in your career, allows you to have access and have the ability to lead these type of strategic projects that have high impact and high visibility within your organization.

MC

So through Strategy Sprint, you really added a lot of value to the organization in you learning more how to think and structure work like a consultant so you don’t have to hire externally as much, which is really huge.

Alvaro

That’s right. There are things that you could still think you need some external expertise, but for what we’re capable of and we can run internally, we are better at presenting it in a way that gets buy-in very quickly.

MC

Continuing on this same thread, but coming at it from a skills perspective, can you name one soft skill and maybe one hard skill that you gained to add to your toolkit from Strategy Sprint?

Alvaro

For me, it was the ability to bring in a team that had not worked together before, but have the ability to think in the same way through that structured way of approaching a problem, in an industry that none of us really were very well versed in to quickly come up with a recommendation. I think that, from a soft skill standpoint, it’s that ability to work as a team, and from a technical and more like the toolbox kind of thing, it’s that structured approach.

MC

So if you were talking to somebody who’s thinking about Strategy Sprint, but on the fence about it, what would you tell them about applying?

Alvaro

For me, the, the two things that drove me to be a part of this in the first place, and that, at the end, I actually ended up getting was number one, the ability to experience what it was like to be an MBB consultant. And, in my organization, we’ve engaged many MBB firms to work on projects, so I got to be on the other side, and I can definitely tell you, that’s exactly how I was looking at things from the outside. Now being on the inside, the speed of things, the cadence, the way work was split, and how you needed to defend your research and your work stream was really reflective of what it is in reality.

Number two, I want to go back to that ability to take a problem, break it down, solve it, and package it in a way that you can make a sound recommendation that has a higher likelihood to get buy-in across the board, especially as you’re progressing in your career, that becomes something paramount and important for career progress.

So, regardless of whether you are thinking of going into an MBB firm, or if consulting is the next career goal that you’re trying to achieve, you can take this skill-set into any industry and into any type of role.

MC

It sounds like you’re saying you were glad that you did it!

Alvaro

{laughs) If you want a tag line there, yeah. Go for it! There are no regrets. Either way, it’s a win. Just make sure that you allocate the time, because that can be challenging as well. We’re not asking too much necessarily, but it’s just a matter of being committed to attend the trainings, to participate, and to get that learning and put it in practice as part of your engagement throughout the week.

MC

Absolutely. Alvaro, thanks for sharing about Strategy Sprint.

Filed Under: Consulting Internship, Consulting skills