Start your Academic Adventure with the Otago MBA

Phase 2: Professional Consulting Engagement

The Professional Consulting Engagement is a highlight of the Otago MBA programme. It is framed to help you gain access to the right industry, organisation or professional network, aligned with your career ambition.

You work with the client to gain a clear understanding of their operation and the challenge they are facing, then apply the theories and techniques you learned in the programme to deliver a solution.

You then draft a well-structured project proposal with a defined scope, clear methods and required analyses. Your project is then marked based on your ability to manage the project process, interactions with the client and the quality of your final report.

Learning gets “real world” with this.

Coaching: The 18 weeks includes 10 online teaching sessions on Project Management, followed by six weekly drop-in online coaching sessions. Please refer to the timetable for further details.


The Professional Consulting Engagement builds a student’s ability to work within a real business environment. The purpose is for students to :

  • Demonstrate the ability to add value to a high-profile business.
  • Accelerate an existing career or make the transition to a new career.
  • Gain a self-defining experience and an accomplishment you will long remember.

Exciting professional consulting engagements that Otago MBA students were engaged with recently include:

Abacus Bio Ltd - Ali Hamza Almakky (Pakistan)

AbacusBio Ltd is a market leader in agribusiness consulting and new business development, with internationally recognised expertise in agricultural technologies, biotechnology and professional business practices.

Ali customized a multi-criteria decision making software for application in the agribusiness industry.

ANZ National Bank - Pieter Van der Merwe (South Africa)

As one of the country's largest companies, ANZ touches the lives of almost every New Zealander. ANZ employs about 9,000 people, finances over 30% of all NZ home loans, holds a 39% share of the rural banking market and accounts for around 1% of NZ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Pieter conducted an analysis of the financial and business capabilities of community pharmacists in New Zealand.

British Broadcasting Corporation - Eben Joubert (South Africa)

The BBC Worldwide is the largest and most respected public service broadcaster in the world providing award-winning content, products and services. Its mission is to enrich people's lives with programmes that inform, educate and entertain.

Eben forecast data demand and the ability of the Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) to supply the bandwidth to make the 2012 London Olympic Games the first broadcast to mobile devices.

Centreport Wellington - Marieke Keller (Germany)

Centreport is the third largest port in New Zealand by tonnes, moving $3 billion of cargo to market every year. Adding in joint venture services, nearly 1 million passengers and its growing property portfolio, Centreport supports the generation of nearly $2 billion of regional GDP.

.Marieke analyzed the CenterPort operations, staffing requirements, as well as the ideal skill set and staffing coverage to improve operational productivity.

Cranleigh - Ted Stern (United States)

Cranleigh is a leading corporate finance and strategic advisory firm for Australasian and Asian public and private organisations. They are called on for the challenging projects to provide expert advice and actionable results that make a difference.

Ted conducted an analysis of heavy industry in New Zealand and best practices in capital equipment procurement for large-scale projects.

Downer - Ashlin Bannet Sha (Qatar / India)

Downer Group is a leading provider of engineering and infrastructure management services in market sectors including Minerals & Metals, Oil & Gas, Power, Road & Rail Infrastructure, Telecommunications and Water. Downer employs more than 20,000 people in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region and had nearly $19 billion of work-in-hand as of 30 December 2012.

Ashlin assisted in the assessment of the work required in rebuilding Christchurch and identification of specific projects aligned with Downer Infrastructure’s strategic interests.

FoodShare - Nick Bell (New Zealand)

FoodShare is a non-profit organisation based in Dunedin, NZ. Its volunteers collect unwanted but edible foods from donor businesses like grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, bakeries, cafes and farmers’ markets. They deliver these resources to service agencies which run food banks or distribute to the hungry.

Nick assisted in the development of a five-year growth plan for FoodShare, an organization dedicated to the redistribution of unwanted foods.

Foodstuffs - Himanshu Redhu (India)

Foodstuffs is a co-operative organization described as "proudly 100% Kiwi owned and operated" by its retail members. They are NZ's biggest grocery distributor and one of the country's largest organisations with more than 30,000 employees. Foodstuffs boasts over 600 retail outlets under well-known brands such as Pak'nSave, New World and Four Square.

Himanshu conducted an analysis of the owner-operator development and succession planning process.

Icebreaker - Tim Loftus (Canada)

Icebreaker pioneered merino wool adventure apparel for outdoors, technical sports and lifestyle. Their merino systems include underwear, mid layer garments, outerwear and accessories for men, women and children. Icebreaker, a recognized leader in sustainable business practices, supplies their outdoor clothing to 3,000 stores in more than 44 countries, with offices in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

Tim benchmarked industry-wide standards and international standardization initiatives for sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) to identify opportunities to capitalize on Icebreaker’s distinctive brand reputation for ethical supply and sourcing practices

Kathmandu - Grant Taylor NZ

Kathmandu is a leading international retailer of clothing and equipment for travel and adventure. Over 1700 team members work in more than a hundred stores, distribution centres and offices spread throughout Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Kathmandu reported 2012 revenues of NZ$m 347 and is publicly listed on the Australia and NZX Stock Exchanges.

Grant analyzed Kathmandu’s IT ecosystem and drafted a feasibility study for a pragmatic Information Systems Strategic Plan.

Mons Royale Ltd - Nicholas Goupil (Canada)

Mons Royale is a business startup based in the small resort town of Lake Wanaka, NZ. The company designs merino wool underwear and first layer apparel “for the rider’s lifestyle." The Mons team of world-class ski, snowboard, surf, mountain bike and motocross athletes has helped take the brand to the world. Mons Royale now supplies its clothing to over 300 retailers across Europe, Australia, NZ and most recently select stores in the U.S.  

Nicholas conducted a feasibility study for increasing Mons Royale’s presence and marketing capabilities in European markets.

Otago Cricket - Kannan S. J. (India)

Cricket is one of New Zealand’s premier sports and regionally governed by the Otago Cricket Associations (OCA). OCA hosts the Otago Volts, the region's first-class professional team originally formed in 1876, is responsible for all junior and women’s cricket, and promotes coaching and development programmes in all clubs and schools in the Otago region.

Kannan researched the sports sponsorship market and aided in the design of a strategy for attracting sponsorship partners.

Otto Group - Melanie Lemke (Germany)

Otto Group is an 11.8 billion EUR (revenues) corporation encompassing 123 major companies in more than 20 countries, with over 53,800 employees. Their operations are structured into three business segments: Multichannel Retail, Financial Services, and Services. Roughly two-thirds of Otto Group sales come through e-commerce, bolstering their position as the world's largest online retailer for fashion and lifestyle products, as well as the world's second-largest e-commerce vendor behind Amazon.

Melanie assisted Otto Group in negotiating the intricacies of transitioning from a traditional, decentralized retailer to a well-positioned e-commerce enterprise able to compete in highly dynamic online markets.

Oxfam, NZ - Khurram Aziz (Pakistan)

Oxfam is a global movement of people working together for a future without poverty. They give a hand up, not a hand out, to create positive change that lasts. Oxfam works in three ways, they: respond to emergencies, saving lives and helping survivors recover; provide people with the skills and resources to lift themselves out of poverty; and campaign to change unjust policies that keep people in poverty.

Khurram engaged in market research with the objective of crafting a well-targeted marketing strategy.

Real Journey - August Song (China)

Real Journeys is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading tourism companies. No one knows NZ adventure like Real Journeys, a family owned business founded in the 1950s. Today the company boasts cruise operations from Stewart Island to Queenstown—including world renowned cruises through Milford and Doubtful Sounds—as well as kayaking, rafting, cycling experiences and more.

August conducted research and assisted in the design of an effective e-marketing strategy for use in mainland China, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

Silver Fern Farms - Karl Buchanan (New Zealand)

Silver Fern Farms is the leading procurer, processor and marketer of red-meat products in New Zealand's agribusiness industry. The company operates as a cooperative of more than 20,000 NZ sheep, lamb, beef and venison farmers; employs in excess of 7,000 people at peak production season; and generates more than NZ$ 2 billion in revenues from markets around the world: USA, Germany, UK, China, Japan, Australia, Italy, Korea and Canada.

Karl conducted a market analysis and mapped the logistics for selling deer products directly to the Chinese market.

Vestas Wind Systems (NZ) - Dominik Nowak (Germany)

Vestas Wind Systems strives to create a world where wind takes its place alongside Oil & Gas through its ever more competitive cost, efficiency and reliable delivery on an industrial and global scale. Vestas has leveraged its 30-year pioneering experience, largest in the world R&D centre and unmatched capabilities of its 17,000 people to become the world leader in wind systems with more than the 48,000 turbine installations in over 70 countries across 6 continents. They are relentlessly committed to generating the greatest and most sustainable return on wind for their customers.

Dominik projected market demand for Vestas turbines in New Zealand and identified wind parks most likely to come on line in the next five to ten years.

Z Energy Limited - Koustubh Khandekar (India)

Z Energy was formed through the April 2010 purchase of Royal Dutch Shell’s NZ assets by Infratil (an infrastructure investment company) and the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation Fund. Z Energy owns over 300 service stations and truck stops; a 17% stake in NZ's only oil refinery; a 25% stake in the Fly Buys loyalty program; as well as pipelines, terminals and bulk storage terminal infrastructure. Z Energy prides itself as a New Zealand energy brand, run by Kiwis, with a heavy dose of NZ attitude. Z Energy reported net revenues of almost NZ$ 3 billion for the year ending 31 March, 2013.

Koustubh conducted an analysis of key features and business models for fuel management systems across the globe.