There’s a new consulting club at Berkeley! What makes this club different from other consulting groups? Their mantra says it’s “inclusivity” and “transparency” – something that seemed to resonate with its impressive 70+ student membership pool, recruited in just its initial launch this semester! They’re calling it “NextGen Consulting,” and they’re striving to question the status quo of on campus business culture. To learn more about NextGen, we have with us Daniel Sheperd, the Executive Vice President and one of the seven founding members.
Let’s start with why your team decided to create NextGen Consulting?
D. Shepard – We created NextGen because we saw a gap between student needs and current consulting club culture at Berkeley. Although there are a ton of consulting clubs, we saw that overall there is a lack of access for those who are interested in the industry, but currently have no experience. The design of the current system seeks the “best of the best” candidates, which results in familiar faces in club leadership and hundreds of capable applicants out of the picture. This rejection can have career implications too–if people aren’t able to get into business clubs as a student, it is nearly impossible for them to land an interview in the real world. This culture also reinforces the common “Snake” narrative on campus, which has its own deep, ulterior effects on Haas students. We’ve found a way to deliver the consulting experience to everyone, because we know that there is a lot more impact possible than what is currently out there.
When starting this new organization, was it challenging competing for clients or members against more entrenched business clubs?
D. Shepard – It’s difficult to measure whether or not other clubs are having an impact on our ability to land clients. And while we do have “traditional” clients like the clubs you mentioned, we focus more on our own NextGen projects, where we reverse the traditional process and proactively reach out to companies after we decide to work on a problem they already have. Thinking about the overall student candidate pool, there doesn’t seem to be a need to compete since there is so much demand out there. This semester was our soft launch and we only expected about 20 people–but then we turned around and had 80 applicants! We’ll find out next semester during our hard launch whether or not there is some measurable competition between us and other business clubs.
So the demand is there, is NexGen using it to focus more on building client relationships or student development?
D. Shepard – While we do take pride in the NextGen process and the work we do; we feel that there is a much more important mission in developing our members to be ready for the business world. We help them by giving everyone Analyst-level training, and the opportunity to work on a NextGen project. Beyond that, we have a rotation of professional development events like Excel training, networking/resume workshops, and career panels. Also, we try to open these events up to non-members (if they are willing to pay a fee), so that everyone can have access to this experience.
How else does NextGen differ from other consulting groups? Like through culture for example?
D. Shepard – That is a dense topic! The one thing I’ll say about other consulting clubs is that, objectively, there is a current perception of exclusivity and pretentiousness that has given business and Haas a bad reputation (e.g. Snakes). This environment has resulted in the inherent (and understandable) partiality to familiar faces in the recruiting process, and a lack of willingness to change when things are already going so well. As founders we recognized this problem, and made inclusivity and transparency the core values of what we believe in as an organization. Again, thinking about the current business club culture—it doesn’t have to be this way!
Is there anything you want people to know about NextGen?
D. Shepard – We’d just like to emphasize that we are not here to throw salt at anyone. Knowing that quite literally all Cal students are very capable individuals, we simply disagree with how business is currently being done on campus. Part of our long-term mission is to eliminate the negative view of business on campus while making it more positive and accessible for everyone. We are working with (not against) other clubs to hopefully make this vision a reality!
Thanks a lot for your time today Daniel and for sharing your team’s perspective on inclusivity and transparency! NextGen is sure to set a great example to future students for how an organization can exude several of the Haas pillars while also giving back to the student community!
Make sure to subscribe at the top right to stay updated on life at Haas!