Bringing consulting to the classroom with Spark 101

Jerrod and Matt, Consultant and Senior Associate Consultant in our Dallas office, share their recent Bain Social Impact experience devoted to education, one of Bain’s global social impact priorities.

One of the many reasons we love working at Bain is the opportunity to make an impact in the non-profit sector. In line with one of our firm-wide social impact priorities, the Dallas office is particularly committed to advancing education by volunteering our time and effort with several organizations in our community.

An example of this is our partnership with Spark 101, a division of a non-profit organization focused on promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the classroom. Spark 101 provides real-world examples of STEM content to classrooms by collaborating with a wide variety of companies to create short, interactive videos that present a problem for the students to solve. These problems demonstrate to students how they can use their STEM education in the real world, while at the same time introducing them to various careers. The overarching goal of Spark 101 is to inspire students to graduate high school and pursue college degrees and careers in STEM.

Earlier this year, we helped create an interactive case study video for high school students across the country – similar to the case interviews we give to aspiring consultants. We presented a case in which a fair company is trying to decide where to expand its operations. After laying out some basic guidelines, the students are asked to advise the CEO on how much he should pay to acquire the “Texas State Fair.” It requires them to use skills that are very familiar to Bainies: make assumptions, frame a problem and perform a revenue/cost analysis.

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The process was straightforward and included creating a script, enlisting presenters (fellow Bainies), filming and basic video editing. After the editing process was complete, we delivered the finished product to Spark 101. They made some additions – including a lesson plan and glossary of terms for teachers – and posted it on their website. You can watch the 10-minute video here: Spark 101 State Fair. We have since finished a second video for Spark 101 that is also posted on their website: Spark 101 New Technology. This case introduces students to market entry strategies for a new technology product.

Our experience with Spark 101 was extremely rewarding. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the process was our interaction with educators and other volunteers from Spark 101. They brought insights on how the video would be used in real classrooms (while reminding us that if we want to use consulting jargon in the videos, we need to explain what it means!) and shared numerous success stories. In particular, we were encouraged to hear how the work we do for our clients – valuing potential strategic options and advising our clients on the difficult decisions they face – helps demonstrate the real-world value of a STEM education to their students.

We are extremely thankful to Spark 101 for giving us the opportunity to share our day-to-day job as consultants to promote STEM education and careers. And a special thanks to the current Bainies who volunteered their time to help with the videos.

Who knows, maybe one of these videos will inspire a future Bainie!

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