Jordan Hirtle (left) was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He grew up in Cole Harbour not far away, playing sports and enjoying science in school. As do many Nova Scotians, Jordan decided to attend Dalhousie after high school. He earned a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biochemistry and Chemistry. Jordan’s hobbies include playing sports, going to the gym and spending time with his dog.
Evan Bannerman is originally from Toronto, but moved to Halifax for his undergrad in Business Management at Dal, majoring in Entrepreneurship. After graduation, he worked for CIBC as an FSR for almost a year before entering the Corporate Residency MBA program. In his spare time Evan plays guitar, and brews beer and wine.
Intro to Dalhousie’s MBA Consulting Firms
Imagine a chance to run your own consulting business while simultaneously doing your MBA. That is exactly what many Dalhousie MBA students have been doing for decades, to gain experience, add to their résumé and, yes, even make some money along the way. There are three main consulting firms: Wakeside Consulting Group (established in 2006), Coburg Consultants (1981) and Atlantic Business Consultants (1967). Each company is incorporated under the Nova Scotia Business Incorporated Act, and has been passed down to new MBA students through sale of stock when the owners graduate. Along with the name and history, students purchasing one of the three firms also gain an office in the Rowe Building, along with whatever treasures have been left there over the years by previous owners. Students compete for different university contracts and seek business outside the university; there is no limit to what you are able to do.
Enter the Program, July 2012
Jordan: Evan and I met in July on the first day at King’s-Edgehill where orientation for the class of 2014 took place. We instantly became friends as we discussed personal experiences, and realized that we shared a lot of the same interests and goals. We found from the start that the students in our cohort were great people, both personally and professionally. It really allows you to feel comfortable and instantly learn from your peers’ experiences and unique skill sets.
Evan: That weekend was fun; a lot of great stories came out of orientation, but that was just the beginning. During the summer we started our first courses, and the class of 2014 really got to know each other. It was August when we first heard that an MBA consulting firm was up for sale, and our class was invited to make proposals in groups if we were interested. Since Jordan and I were on the same wavelength with everything else, it seemed a natural fit to go into business together. We wrote up a proposal, were interviewed and eventually chosen to succeed as the new owners of Atlantic Business Consultants (ABC).
Down to Business
Evan: Our first contract was to continue providing the convocation photography and flower services at Dal. This was a carryover from the previous owners, which got us off to a great start. We instantly had to balance school, work and customer service simultaneously, but our hard work paid off. Not only had the operation gone off without a hitch, but also we were able to use the funds we received from that to start other projects, and pay the bills.
Jordan: For us, owning and managing a company with little experience has been both challenging and very rewarding. We have written many proposals, provided convocation photography and flower services, and we write the weekly CRMBA blog you are reading now. This experience has been invaluable for us as we each intend to run our own business one day.
Evan: In terms of finding work, you bid on what you think you would be good at given your skill sets. There are so many learning opportunities that go along with this business, such as when you meet with prospects and current clients, and when you negotiate the price and terms of a deal. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t, but you gain valuable experience every time.
A Long-Distance Partnership
Jordan: We are both two months into our corporate residencies at the moment. I am working at Corporate Research Associates in Halifax as a data analyst and I have a mentor who is awesome. He helps me every step of the way and is extremely approachable and positive, which has helped me adapt to the organizational culture. Another positive is having the opportunity to work with one of the other students from the program, Emma Horner, also on her corporate residency, which allows us to take coffee breaks and lunches together. Additionally, we are able to continuing learning from one another and helping each other.
Evan: I work at GE Capital in the equipment-lending division as a risk analyst, however I also help out on the sales side of the business as well. As Jordan said, our experiences so far in our residencies have been incredible, and we have been able to apply a lot of what we learned in class to the real world. Apart from work, we are taking a core course, and continue to write the blog. We don’t have much time to actively search for other work at the moment, but we have a lot of things planned for September when we return. We will have the full year to really step up our game and have a great year with ABC. I know the other consulting firms are in the same boat.
Jordan: Although Evan is in Toronto and I am in Halifax, we are still in contact a few times a week on the phone, by email or on a Google doc, so we can both contribute to and edit projects. We also use a program called LogMeIn, which allows us both to use the office computer remotely for work. These technologies have allowed us to collaborate on all of our current projects, and plan for future ones with ease.
Jordan: There are so many reasons to choose Dalhousie’s MBA program, but we thought it would be good to highlight this unique opportunity which doesn’t get much attention. The leadership skills you gain over the course of owning a consulting company really help you during your residency. The combination of that, and the program in general, allows you to make connections with industry leaders, classmates and faculty, which will really help you to build your network and thrive during you career.
Evan: Running a company while doing your MBA is challenging, and requires perseverance, hard work and, often, long hours. The payoff however is equally great, in terms of what you learn, the experience you add to your résumé and, of course, the financial rewards. Who knows, maybe someone reading this will be the next owner of ABC, or one of the other consulting firms.
If any prospective students have questions about the program don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We would be happy to answer any questions related to the consulting firms or Dalhousie in general.