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NC State to Host National Consult Your Community Collegiate Conference This Fall

Consult Your Community members show their NC State pride at a meeting this past year.
Consult Your Community members show their NC State pride at a meeting this past year.

The NC State University chapter of Consult Your Community (CYC) will be hosting the national collegiate consulting organization’s first annual conference this fall, at the NC State Talley Student Center on November 30 and December 1.

Tanner Purvis preparing to speak at an NC State CYC meeting.
Tanner Purvis preparing to speak at an NC State CYC meeting.

The NC State chapter earned that honor by raising the most in donations – about $6,000 – during CYC’s 2018 spring fundraising challenge for Giving Tuesday and Small Business Saturday, said Tanner Purvis, co-founder and president of the NC State chapter. That amount exceeded the chapter’s initial goal of $2,700 from its members, he said. “Everyone had that goal in mind, and several went beyond it.”

Consult Your Community is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers college students to have a positive impact on communities by providing pro bono consultancy services to small businesses, especially minority-owned and women-owned businesses. Co-founded in 2013 at the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business by then-student Kiron Chandy, it has grown to nearly 20 chapters at universities across the country. Chandy, who now is a PwC consultant and contributor at Huffington Post, serves as chief executive officer.

Focused on Empowerment

Membership is highly selective, and aspirants who successfully complete its rigorous interview process are invited to join its intensive, semester-long program which focuses on developing consultants’ problem solving, interpersonal, communication and entrepreneurial skills.

In working with their clients, the CYC teams are “are encouraged to give business owners the tools to succeed after the engagement is over. The volunteers and businesses they work with are encouraged to identify areas of improvement and effectively work towards (the small business’) mission,” according to the CYC website.

Purvis is taking that same approach in developing the agenda for CYC’s upcoming national conference at NC State.

The theme of the conference will center on empowering small business owners and how CYC plans to instill empathy between students and the surrounding community while solving legitimate business problems, he said. The NC State chapter’s leadership team is confirming the agenda, with plans to include panel discussions, keynote speakers and interactive workshops. The conference provides a unique opportunity for students across the 20 member chapters to come together for the first time in the organization’s history while intermingling with local businesses in the Raleigh community and corporate sponsors, the organizers said.

CYC’s national leadership team is now soliciting sponsor support for the conference, to help cover costs that include transportation assistance for members from chapters across the country to attend, Purvis said.

Strong Start for NC State’s CYC Chapter

The NC State chapter was started in August 2016 by co-founders Purvis, now a senior in the NC State Poole College of Management, and Poole College 2017 graduates Hunter Davis and Ben Clark.

“We were curious about consulting,” Purvis said, but couldn’t find a way to get involved other than securing an internship – until Davis discovered CYC while researching options.

In May through July 2016, the local chapter’s founders completed CYC’s formal 10-week process for new chapters created by Chief Operating Officer Thomas Flynn. The program included identifying how they would go about finding clients, developing a strategic plan to assure sustainability and pitching NC State as a new chapter location. “It was a big learning process for us, but we saw this as filling a void,” Purvis said.

NC State Consult Your Community members at one of their meetings in 2017-18.
NC State Consult Your Community members at one of their meetings in 2017-18.

“We have grown to over 30 student consultants and completed 14 engagements over the past four semesters. In total we have added 7,500-plus hours of pro-bono consulting to the Raleigh community,” he said. “In the upcoming fall semester, we will serve six clients, giving us a portfolio of 20 small businesses consulted.”

CYC members come from various disciplines but all have a penchant for leadership and service. “Most of our current leaders, volunteers and alumni work/have worked/will soon work at PwC, Bain & Company, McKinsey, Deloitte, Bridgewater, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Google, Procter & Gamble, Teach for America, and other heavy-hitters. Not exactly your 9-to-5 jobs,” Chandy wrote in a post on the CYC LinkedIn site.

About half of the NC State chapter’s members are Poole College students, with many of the rest being in the College of Engineering, representing eight of the majors there, from biomedical to industrial and systems engineering, Purvis said.

Chandler Kay, Park Scholar and College of Engineering 2018 graduate, serves as an example of CYC’s many engineering members. After hearing about CYC at NC State, he said he “immediately applied to the organization and was elated to be accepted. CYC is an amazing opportunity to give back to the Raleigh community that has helped me grow personally and professionally.”

When asked about how CYC fit his career goals, Kay said, “CYC helped prepare me to acquire a job at Deloitte Consulting because it forced me to develop professional skills that you might not necessarily see in a classroom setting. Primarily, I learned the value of asking ‘is this project worth their time? How does it add value to what the client wants?’.”

Bringing the CYC Community Together

The fall conference will be the first time that most of the CYC members will be meeting in person, but they do know each other well – virtually.

“We could probably tell you at length about each other’s texting and speaking idiosyncrasies, since we spend a good deal of time on Slack and the phone,” Chandy wrote in the organization’s LinkedIn account, where she gives regular shout-outs to the CYC chapter members, including one to Purvis, who “set (an initial) goal of raising $10,000 to inspire his chapter at North Carolina State University to dream big despite being a chapter less than a year old” and to Sedona Hilt, a senior in industrial and systems engineering at the NC State College of Engineering, for her work as vice president of internal affairs at the NC State CYC chapter.

In her LinkedIn account, Hilt wrote, “I have a passion for solving problems. The only incentive I need for working hard is seeing the positive impact my work has on others. I enjoy mentoring younger students and giving back to the community, especially through my role in Consult Your Community.”

Purvis has shared his perspective on CYC at its Facebook page,where he wrote in January: “CYC is such an inspiring organization that understands the challenges of owning a small business. They empower top performing undergraduates and utilize their education to solve the most complex of problems, for free. I am honored to be a part of this cause and to represent the NC State Chapter.”

CYC also hosts a podcast series with over 10,000 listeners, Community Voice, where it “tells stories of the American Dream in Action … (amplifying) the voices of small business owners and the impact our students make in partnership with small business clients during their pro bono consulting projects.”

Davis was among those featured on Community Voice, discussing his decision to join Teach for America following his involvement with CYC.

“The CYC chapter at NC State gives students opportunities to engage with industry on experiential projects that solve real-world interdisciplinary problems,”said Sherry Fowler, a lecturer in information technology at Poole College and faculty advisor for the NC State CYC chapter. “CYC members are high achievers in the classroom, but they also apply their academic learning to local businesses or non-profit clients. These opportunities are vital to success after graduation, making CYC a win-win: for our students, who get real-world experience showcasing their skills in a variety of ways, and for their clients, who get tailor-made solutions to their needs,“ she said.

More about CYC

CYC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides pro bono consulting services to small businesses, especially minority-owned and women-owned businesses. The organization has “mobilized hundreds of students since 2013 to apply what they learn in school and from their internships to helping local businesses. We estimate that our students help over 90 businesses each year and give over 25,000 hours of pro bono counsel,” according to a post on its website. CYC members “focus on actively working with business owners to implement changes, not just to craft strategic recommendations.”

Photos in this story were provided by CYC.