Cockrell School students Robert Fromm and Sameer Ramani teamed with McCombs School students Skyler Kanegi and Chang Liu to win the Student Consulting Initiative (SCI) Fall 2009 challenge Nov. 21, taking home $800 and four Continental round trip tickets to anywhere in the U.S., Caribbean, Central America and Canada.

Sponsorship of the award came from Continental Airlines, UT Student Government, UT Senate and the McCombs School of Business Office of Student Life. 

The team consulted with Super Saver Shuttle, a local small business that provides shuttle services, mostly to military personnel, from Kileen to Austin.

The winning team helped Super Saver Shuttle business owner, Renon Hartley, in several areas including branding, employee retention, accounting and process management. The team successfully created a new website and drove up website hits drastically. Additionally, the team developed employee wage strategies and shuttle timetables. The four also implemented security measures for the shuttles and taught Hartley how to electronically manage her accounts. Lastly, by introducing simple technological measures, the team was able to increase shuttle security and cut company costs. All of the solutions were implemented using the $300 that SCI gives each team to put toward their client businesses.

Competition judge, Hunter Follett, a McCombs alum and investment banker at Citi, was extremely impressed by the winning team. "It's hard to imagine that a group of four students could do so much in just 10 weeks."

Another judge, Paul Albrecht from McKinsey & Co., said, "This team completely turned this business around through their creative consulting."

Most important of all, business owner Renon was extremely happy to have worked with the four students and SCI.  In a thank you letter, she wrote, "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be involved in your program.  [The team] was innovative, hard working and very responsible."

Kanegi and Liu are undergraduate McCombs students while Ramani and Fromm are students in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, respectively. The team believes that their unique mix of business and engineering was helpful in coming up with sustainable and resourceful solutions. 

SCI holds a semester long consultant development program every fall semester in which teams consult small Austin businesses. SCI is a service organization that has a two-pronged mission to strengthen the Austin community through student consulting services and to provide opportunities for students to apply their business education in real-life situations. In the program, SCI invites industry professionals to provide consulting insights and case workshops for the students to improve their client businesses and also help find consulting jobs. After a semester of consulting, the SCI teams present their work to a panel of judges, who determine which team had the most sustainable solutions and the largest impact on their client businesses. SCI has consulted with 18 small businesses and given 72 students consulting opportunities in its 2.5 year history.

If interested in being a part of the Student Consulting Initiative, please contact Jake Hughes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Narayan Bhargava at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can visit the organization's Web site at www.mccombs.utexas.edu/students/sci.

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cover of Texas Engineering magazine with group of students
cover of Texas Engineering magazine with group of students