Students Dispense Healthy Advice to Olive Oil Manufacturer

Seventeen lucky Drexel students recently traveled to Saluzzo, Italy, to present their findings and ideas at the conclusion of a LeBow consulting course that focused on helping a small, family-run olive oil company forge a path toward expanding into the international market.

In this course, students were tasked with putting together an expansion plan for the client that included everything from shipping, distribution and manufacturing costs to social media campaigns and interactive websites.

During a reflection event held on Jan. 29, Marc Patterson, a sophomore majoring in finance, said the most important thing he learned is that consulting is more than just understanding business. “It’s also about understanding people. You have to basically become the client’s best friend. You have to learn how they think, what they like, what they don’t like – and learn what their perspective is so that you can guide the client in that direction where he or she’s going to be most profitable.”

Trina Andras, PhD, the Drexel LeBow professor of marketing who led the consulting course, added, “Business consulting is not like a case study that you can read about in a book with nicely organized chapters. You have to figure out what the problem is yourself, and this group did a great job of that. It was a great learning experience.”

Andras gave the students props for convincing the client to change his mind about one important decision related to exporting: he wanted to avoid using a middleman for fear that it would be too costly. “But, very professionally, utilizing facts and evidence, you were able to convince him this was the best option,” she said.

Kyle Norton, a LeBow undergraduate program manager who accompanied the students on the trip, says “All three presenters, Marc Patterson, Ashley Cole and Grayson Rogers, did a phenomenal job representing the class and LeBow College, and very clearly proved to the client that their 13 weeks of research and hard work was amounted to more than just ‘school work.’ The client loved the presentation and seemed very excited about pursuing many of the ideas our students had recommended.”

The group that participated in this class and trip was comprised of students from LeBow College of Business, the Goodwin College of Professional Studies and Drexel’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management. They spent a week in Italy, including several days in Turin, where they visited the coffee manufacturer Lavazza and a manufacturing/bottling plant. The students also visited the University of Gastronomic Sciences, where they studied the relationship between food and culture.

The consulting course was delivered through Drexel LeBow’s Dornsife Office for Experiential Learning.

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