Alumni Spotlight – Kevin Ko SVMP ’09

An SVMP ’09 alumnus reflects on his experiences in the “enigmatic” world of management consulting.

A priest, a rabbi and a consultant were traveling on an airplane. There was a crisis, and it was clear that the plane was going to crash, and they would all be killed. The priest began to pray and finger his rosary beads, the rabbi began to read the Torah, and the consultant began to organize a committee on air traffic safety.


Jokes about consultants are a dime a dozen. A popular quip is that consultants steal your watch and then tell you the time – a stereotype reinforced by Showtime’s recent portrayal of the profession in House of Lies. Even people close to me don’t understand what I do as a consultant. My parents are set on the idea that I’m a financial advisor. Friends imagine me as George Clooney from Up in the Air, spending my life on the road firing people. While I have spent 200+ nights in hotels over the past year, I am happy to say that I have never been responsible for anyone losing their job.


So what does a consultant actually do? A “50,000-foot view” of consulting can be summed up as supporting organizational leaders to solve their most critical issues. While accurate, this description is so high-level that it risks being devoid of meaning. At the very least, it raises more questions than answers. The best way I can describe consulting with any level of granularity is by providing anecdotes from my own experience. Since joining Deloitte in July 2010, I have worked on nine projects at eight clients in over a dozen cities. I helped a major insurance plan comply with Health Care Reform. I devised a global reference data strategy at a bulge bracket investment bank. I supported acquisitions in the coal and super metals industries. I developed a health plan imaging solution at a major telecommunications client. I enabled a technology transformation at one of the world’s largest hedge funds. Currently, I am advising a large pharmaceutical company on devising clinical trial quality standards. For the sake of brevity and client confidentiality, these examples are hardly robust, but hopefully they provide some flavor of the types of clients and nature of problems for which consultants are leveraged.


For readers with a healthy sense of skepticism, my experience should raise another question: How does a recent college graduate advise clients on such high profile, complex issues? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no savant in any of the aforementioned industries, but that’s the beauty of joining a consulting firm straight from undergrad: No one expects you to be an expert. In fact, I have never been afraid to admit, “I don’t know…” so long as I can follow up it with an enthusiastic “… but I will find out.” One of the most valuable assets a fresh-faced consultant can bring to the table is the ability to manage change and ambiguity. Over time, this competency enables new consultants to develop expertise by teaming with others. I have worked with and learned from senior practitioners who have deep industry and technical knowledge. While I may not be a subject matter expert, I am able to contribute to discussions with these specialists by offering a fresh perspective, challenging assumptions and synthesizing findings in a manner that is relevant to the client. By amalgamating a cornucopia of complementary views and skill sets in this way, consultants are able to support clients in solving their most difficult problems.


And now, again for the skeptics out there, the million-dollar question: Do consultants actually create value? With all the jokes made at consultants’ expense, one would be apt to ponder their ability to have a meaningful impact. The short (and admittedly biased) answer is yes. “Consulting” is somewhat of a misnomer as it implies that consultants are in the business of telling clients what to do. Oftentimes, clients know their own businesses and organizations better than consultants ever will. As such, effective consultants work with their clients to develop a solution in tandem – framing the issue, transforming data into insights, weighing potential solutions and providing a final recommendation. A former senior manager of mine referred to this as “taking the client along for the ride.” Ultimately, combining the client’s understanding of their organizational dynamics with consultants’ fresh perspective leads to a truly impactful solution – one that is not only elegant and comprehensive, but, more importantly, one with the client’s buy-in.


Given the nature of this publication, a discourse on consulting would seem out of place (or at least incomplete) without mention of how this all relates to SVMP. Fortunately, the linkages between consulting and SVMP are plentiful. The goals of consulting parallel those of SVMP – to develop a broader understanding of the challenges business leaders face and the many dimensions of the business world. Each consulting project represents an extended live case study, requiring the same skills that were employed in preparation for and during SVMP class discussions. Clients tap consultants to solve their most complex, top-of-mind management issues. The “right answer” is rarely clear, and arriving at a workable solution requires the ability “to examine and debate ideas through lively interaction.” Sound familiar? Check out the About the Program section of the SVMP site. In many ways, our experience with SVMP was an inadvertent venture into management consulting. While this connection may not have been evident previously, hopefully this exposition has lifted some of the “enigma” around consulting, revealed its meaningful relationship to SVMP and, at the very


Kevin Ko is currently a business analyst with Deloitte Consulting.  He participated in SVMP during the summer of 2009, and he graduated from The Wharton School in May 2010.


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Alumni Connect – Jesika Clerge SVMP ’06

About Jesika Clerge:


I completed my undergraduate degree in Economics and English at Mount Holyoke College. Afterwards, I completed my graduate degree at Northeastern University, earning an MS in Nonprofit Management – with a concentration in Accounting. Currently, I am working as the CFO for a small nonprofit named Together Against Malaria (TAMTAM).


TAMTAM is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization engaged in the protection of pregnant women and small children from malaria. TAMTAM solves urgent malaria challenges by distributing free bed nets to underserved areas through innovative, cost-effective and scientifically founded methods. TAMTAM facilitates operational evaluations with researchers and policymakers to increase the impact of malaria net distribution.


TAMTAM also distributes free bed nets to prevent malaria in a cost-effective, targeted, innovative and evidence-based manner. The organization conducts operational research on bed-net distribution to help improve the use of bed nets worldwide. We are a volunteer organization with zero personnel costs.


With bed nets, a little goes a long way toward saving lives. TAMTAM is supported by many individuals whose generous monetary support goes directly to purchasing and delivering bed nets to individuals in need.


For more information on TAMTAM, please visit our website:


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Alumni Beat 8 – Alumni Perspective

  Alumni Perspective: King of Quotes

by Ronald AngSiy – SVMP ’11



    Ronald AngSiy is currently a Strategy and Transformation consultant for IBM with over 10 client projects including: Walmart, J&J, and Pepsi. He is an honors graduate from Indiana University with several Mentorship awards from various academic affiliations on campus. He has also been a mentor for Brown University’s Venture Incubator and worked at a global advertising agency.



        I find the contemporary rendition of carpe diem quite compelling: YOLO. In the spirit of this thought, I have collated 10 contemporary and classic quotes from my collection in context of professional advice, complimented by my own experiences for enrichment (yes I shamelessly abuse alliteration).


1)  “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

     You only work at one company. It only takes one offer. Your rejections don’t cumulatively count (like bad test grades). I applied to over 160 internship positions my junior year, and only had 2 offers. The offer I took changed my life and also led me to SVMP.


2)  “The rainbows of life follow the storms.”

     People talk about work-life balance, but if you do it right, then there shouldn’t have to be a balance because you love what you do. It’s a common theme CEOs recently speak to (most recently Marissa Mayer). I think that living 5/7th of your life simply to enjoy the 2/7th is a terribly bad value proposition.


3)  “Everyone has his burden. What counts is how you carry it.”

     To go with point 2, many people do not adequately distinguish between “difficulty” and “misery.” You can dislike the mundane day-to-day tasks, the stress, the underappreciation, or so forth. However, there has to be something intrinsically motivating to push you forward, even if just conceptual. For example, it’s easy to classify Finance employees as simply money-driven. However, Finance for many is a field that allows you to purely express and tangibly prove “victory” in an open competition. It’s one of the few fields outside of sports that allow individuals to compete on a raw, unabated level.


4) “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

     Life isn’t rooting “for” you or actively “against” you the way the school system is setup with grades and teachers. Life is…apathetic. It doesn’t care; it moves along with or without you. It’s up to you to make what you want of it, but many people don’t take firm enough control.


5) “A candle loses nothing if it’s meant to light another one.”

     When you go to conferences, networking events, or speaker series, the attendees can oftentimes be as valuable as the speakers themselves. Everyone is equal, so just make friends. Worst case scenario is that you make a new friend. I value those relationships as much as I have from any speaker I met. Sometimes they’re the same person.


6) “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”  

     Keep perspective. I hear people complain about their salaries or perks, but in the broader market there are so many intelligent kids with just part time jobs that will professionally scar them for their careers.


7)  “If everything seems like it’s under control, you’re just not going fast enough”  

     Have a plan, but be opportunistic. Life is long and you never know where you’ll end up. I wanted to be in advertising since jr. high, yet had a major life twist in my senior year of college.


8)  “All the power is from within and is therefore under our own control.”

     Find ways to constantly motivate yourself. I went to an MBA event recently and it motivated me to perform better at work when, ironically, an MBA program takes you out of work. Not sure why. Psychology is a strange creature.


9)  “Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get..”

      People often times don’t appreciate what’s going well for them already when there’s something not  going well. I’m financially and professionally healthy now, but underestimated the happiness that my multi-year relationship in college comparatively brought me. I’m grateful for what I have for I know it can end at any moment…literally.


10) “If you wait till the last minute, it only takes a minute.”

     Sorry that was trolling.


11) “There’s no such thing as a grown up. We move on, we move out, we move away from our families and form our own. But the basic insecurities, the basic fears and all those old wounds just grow up with us. …We get bigger, we get taller, we get older. But for the most part, we’re still a bunch of kids. Running around the playground trying desperately to fit in.”

     This is true. I have nothing more to add.

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