Manchester MBAs bring fresh perspectives to KPMG

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The Manchester Full-time MBA includes three live client projects of increasing complexity, which is equivalent to six months’ experience. We spoke to client Nick Dodd, Partner, KPMG Advisory, Manchester about a recent project with a group of Manchester MBAs – Murilo Freitas, Varsha Jain, Sarah Li, Shaun Teo and Naveen Viswanatha.

Why do you choose to work with MBS?
“KPMG has a fantastic longstanding relationship with Manchester Business School, and we were incredibly keen to develop this relationship further and work even more closely together.

“Following a meeting with Phil Galvin, Director of MBA Consultancy Projects, we learned how we could get involved as an MBA consultancy project client. Put simply, this was a ‘no brainer’ for us: we would get access to high quality candidates with strong academic backgrounds and with a number of years’ professional experience, who could help us with some of the challenges we face as a business.”

What was the business issue that you needed help with?
“We recently launched KPMG Enterprise, our commitment to working with privately-owned businesses across the UK.

“Our clients in this SME and mid-market space regularly tell us about the issues they face, such as accessing finance and funding, and tackling changes in the regulatory and banking environments.

“We wanted to analyse this market more thoroughly and assess how we could play a part in helping entrepreneurs and business owners tackle these issues.

“We also wanted to gauge how we are perceived externally – by gaining an outside perspective on our marketing and communications strategies – and get recommendations on how to position ourselves in the SME market from a finance and investment perspective.”

What methodology was used?
“We arranged for the MBA team to interview key people at KPMG, in different parts of the country and from different areas of the business – including members of our debt advisory, digital marketing and accounting teams.

“Alongside this, the students undertook desktop research to provide a detailed overview of the size and scale of the SME lending landscape. Finally, they also undertook a competitive analysis of other accounting firms who operate in this space.

“Following this they consolidated their findings, and used them to critique our strategy.”

What were the findings?
“The group found that although alternative sources of finance – for example, peer to peer lenders, venture capitalists and government funders –  have grown both in size and number in recent years, the ‘Big Five’ banks still remain the main source of funding for this market, providing 95% of funds in 2014.

“The group also provided us with a fresh perspective on our approach to alternative finance, along with recommendations on how we can better identify those high growth SMEs – the so-called gazelles. This will enable us to build stronger working relationships with them by helping them to unlock external investment.”

How has the consultancy project benefited your company?
“The project generated a number of valuable recommendations relating to our marketing and social media strategies, and also reinforced what we knew was good about our existing strategy.

“The recommendations will also form part of KPMG’s wider strategy in respect of SME finance and tracking high growth companies.”

What was the greatest challenge?
“As you can imagine, an organisation of 13,000 people is both complex and diverse, so giving the MBAs an overview of the numerous parts of KPMG and explaining how we work was quite a challenge!”

How did you find working with MBS’ MBA students?
“The MBAs brought a fresh approach and were able to challenge our strategy in a creative and insightful way. And while it wasn’t a global business problem, the students’ international perspectives were undoubtedly useful.

“We would be delighted to work with students from Manchester Business School again as put simply, we were blown away by their quality. They were professional at all times and very innovative. They were a credit to the School.”

“Working for KPMG through the UK Consultancy Project was one the highlights of our MBA so far. This project took the team through a steep learning curve – understanding a new sector and subject matter within a very short span of time, and finally culminating in us confidently presenting actionable recommendations to a Partner at KPMG. We were able to apply several concepts we learned in strategy, corporate finance and marketing modules of the MBA. This is what brought all of us to Manchester MBA – for such opportunities to immediately apply what we learn in the classroom to the real world.”
Naveen Viswanatha, MBA Class of 2016

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Manchester Business School has a global reputation for innovative and influential teaching and research, which impacts business on a local, national and international level. We call this Original Thinking Applied.

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