Co-op #2, Month #3: Application and Execution

With my third month of co-op wrapped up, I can once again share my reflections from this past month. What was I able to achieve in March? How have I learned from new opportunities and challenges? And comes next in my final month?

While March was also a busy month for me outside of work, I still had the opportunity to learn a lot and make an impact within my workday. I applied my new skills from earlier in the term to put together a pitch deck for senior leaders. I also laid the groundwork for possible case studies for my new project. And I applied a classic consulting technique in the real world. Let’s dive in!

Pitching, part 2.

Earlier in the term, I spoke about learning something new: how to create a pitch deck, and how to do it well in the real world. I knew these skills would pay off, but I’m surprised by how soon they did. Last month, I got to work on a pitch deck for a much larger opportunity.

I was able to apply these skills to create a deck that would go in front of senior executives at a major Canadian organization. This quickly became a very exciting opportunity, and an impactful one too. Through a few rounds of revisions, I was able to collect feedback and refine my messaging, before handing off the content to my colleague to present it. It was highly valuable hearing this feedback and getting the chance to learn and grow along with sharpening my deck.

The pitch was a success! And the initial deck I had built created interest and led to follow-up discussions with key decision-makers in the organization. It was very rewarding to see how my work was able to spark and help move along an important opportunity for us.

Case studies

In my work, both this term and previously, I’ve come across a great number of case studies from various organizations and thought leaders. I had always been a consumer of this content, but for the first time, I got the chance to shape our own case studies. This was an interesting and exciting process.

I previously mentioned a new project I was starting on. One purpose of this project, among many others, was the help us showcase new technology and hopefully capture its success in the form of a case study; a short document outlining the challenges, opportunities, and resulting value created we created.

This was an exciting process for me. I got to work at a few different narratives for the case study and narrow down on some more poignant ones. To help shape my narrative, I took time to read through several previous case studies we’d written, and I actually got to learn a lot about the impact our technology can have.

I took this as inspiration to lay out the framework for our case study, with an aim of making it equally impactful on the reader. I combined my understanding of the client, their industry, our technology, and all the relevant trends to shape a story that captures exactly how we were able to help them in response to the challenges they faced. 

This narrative will eventually be combined with data and statistics when we reach the end of the project, but for now, it provides some guidance to help us focus on specific areas of impact and value, and ensures we collect the right data and baselines to successfully convey this impact in the future.

Market Sizing

Market sizing is a common consulting exercise, often used in interviews to judge a candidate’s ability to make and communicate assumptions, reach reasonable conclusions, and respond to new data. Usually, it’s asked in the form of a broad question, for which the candidate couldn’t possibly know the answer. For example “How many people in London purchase life insurance?” is a question that might be asked. There’s no obvious answer, so a candidate needs to reason towards an estimate.

I’ve had my fair share of market sizing questions before, but for the first time, I got the chance to apply this technique in the real world. I was tasked with sizing the Condo market globally. Except for this time, it wasn’t a 5min interview question, and I had plenty of time to research and collect real data to back up my assumptions. Surprisingly, this actually made it harder!

Firstly, housing data across the world is collected with varying degrees of detail and in different ways. Local Canadian data was very easy to find, and very well structured. However, housing data from Poland was not. There were also different data points, whether it was the population living in Condos, the number of households, number of units, etc. 

It took some time to narrow our area of focus, and then clean and normalize the data. Once I had done this, it was easy to build profiles for each geography. I was able to draw some additional conclusions from this data as well. Finally, I was able to use this data to update our financial model and build-out projects for expansion plans into other geographies.

It was interesting to see how different market sizing can be when you’re able to access real-world data. There were a host of challenges, but the final conclusions were more sound, in some ways surprising, and definitely worth the effort.

What comes next?

As I enter the last month of my co-op term, I’ll be focused on refining and continuing to apply my learnings, as well as collecting feedback to bring with me into future terms. I’ll make strides on my projects, and work to bring them to a place of easy transfer.

I’m not sure what April will bring, but I’m as excited as always to learn from each new opportunity. As the weather warms up, and I get ready for another semester of online classes, I’m sure I’ll be looking fondly at the people I’ve met and the memories I’ve made this past term.