A Team for Today: Consulting Across Continents
Split between Hoboken, New Jersey and Athens, Greece, a team of graduate student-consultants ‘overdelivered’ on their capstone project.
The way of working is changing, expanding to include fully distributed, remote teams. The Industry Capstone Program (ICP) at Stevens is helping students prepare for the new normal. This past semester, students in Hoboken, New Jersey collaborated with students in Athens, Greece, and their client was Leven Deli Co. in Denver, Colorado. The future of work is here.
Stevens MBA students Kaylee Gardner ‘22 and Salvatore Scire ‘23 teamed up with Marios Kanellos and Petros Mardas, who are friends and classmates earning MBA International Degrees at Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB). The team — separated by the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and a seven-hour time difference — collaborated on a business development project for Leven Deli Co., a popular restaurant in downtown Denver.
“I have mixed feelings about remote work,” said Gardner. “But I would say it’s a net positive because it opens us up to these interesting and diverse team situations.”
High Quality at Scale
Leven Deli Co. is a tasty combination of a Jewish deli and a Mediterranean kitchen that serves breakfast, lunch and offers an extensive wine list along with house-made rye bread.
Tasked with market research and strategic analysis, the team of graduate student-consultants delivered marketing and communications assets, industry contacts and extensive research on business expansion opportunities with three candidates for partnership: airports, hotels and real-estate developers.
“It was an opportunity to apply in practice all the theoretical knowledge that we have gained from our courses about marketing, international business and entrepreneurship, and business planning,” said Mardas.
The student team met weekly between asynchronous work sessions. Frank Gallucci, adjunct professor in the School of Business and the team’s faculty advisor, helped the group generate ideas and encouraged them throughout the project. “Professor Gallucci attended many of our meetings. We talked with him in great depth, and our team benefited from his many insights,” said Scire, the team’s leader.
“The team demonstrated a remarkable blend of business acumen and creativity well beyond their years. They worked seamlessly across multiple time zones with enthusiasm and respect for their client and each other,” said Gallucci. “It was a joy to watch this talented group provide their client with value-creating, strategic options.”
Their project culminated in a virtual presentation for the owner of Leven Deli, Anthony Lygizos. The result? Lygizos said that the team “overdelivered” and opened his mind to new possibilities for the business.
“Anthony doesn’t have the capacity to do all this business expansion work on his own because he’s busy running the deli,” said Gardner. “Our goal throughout this project was to do some of that work for him.”
Also in attendance at the team’s final presentation was Frank Gallucci; Brian Rothschild, senior director of the MBA programs and the ICP; Christina Sargiss-Alwell, manager of the ICP; and Eric Soderquist, director of the MBA International Program at AUEB.
Impressed by the team’s work, Soderquist said, “The students managed to creatively tackle an important business problem and provide actionable advice to their client for its business development. They also overcame many obstacles to collaboration, showing the highest commitment and professionalism and developing important skills for their careers.”
Connecting online was not a barrier to these students. They did great work and became friends. The management faculty at both Stevens and AUEB are excited by the team’s success, which validates this partnership and remote work. The introduction of the students and Leven Deli Co.was facilitated by CapSource – an experiential learning platform focused on providing students with opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities before graduation.
“We are eager to continue and expand this collaboration, by running joint projects both in the U.S. and in Greece,” said Soderquist. “It creates a unique international and intercultural experience for all involved.”
Through the ICP, Gardner, Scire, Kanellos, and Mardas gained real-world consulting experience, exceeded their client’s expectations, and developed lasting relationships along the way. “I’m glad I took this on,” said Kanellos. “It has been an amazing experience, and I have gained two new friends.”