Consultant Unplugged 2009

President of the NUS MBA Consulting Club, Shipra Gupta talks about the process of planning the club’s flagship event. 

On March 19, 2009 at 2:30 am, as I finally flopped on my bed, and in the 2 seconds before I fell asleep, all I could remember were Srikanth’s words, “Just make sure you hold Consultant Unplugged”.

The day was Dec 6, 2008. I wasn’t even a month old as the Club President when at the annual ART dinner, one of our alumnus, Srikanth Sridharan caught hold of me and Srinivasa, our student council President, and told both of us that we must hold “Consultant Unplugged”. Our outgoing ex-co had said the same thing and I of course agreed. I hadn’t even planned the event calendar for the year and I was going home for a month. So I made a note at the back of my head and promptly forgot about it. Back in January, I started planning the events, and thinking about Consultant Unplugged. After much deliberation and consultation, we, the club ex-co, decided on March end. We had 3 months to plan, but no idea what we were in for.

For the next 3 months, at painstaking pace we moved from one step to the next. Talking to people day and night, identifying possible speakers and going through all possible channels to invite other business schools, we were sending what seemed like a countless number of mails.

As an NUS MBA flagship event, even the smallest details mattered. 8 days for designing the registration flyer, followed by faculty invitation cards, publicity email blasts, 5 different versions of the panel guides: each for a different target audience, numerous iterations of each version; every single word, logo and punctuation mark in every single document and e-mail was scrutinized by at least 5 independent pairs of eyes.

There were setbacks, failures, and sacrifices. We had to give up looking for internships, going for recruitment talks and even studying for tests. I remember studying only a few hours before a mid term and of course I bombed in it. The last 20 days were the hardest to keep going. Except actually attending classes, we were doing nothing but planning the event. Endless trips to the programs office to finalize the logistics, recruiting volunteers, assigning escorts for outside teams & panelists, countdown reminder flyers, customized reminder emails, 25 versions of the banner, detailed volunteer plans with clear time lines and tasks, down to pasting chits at the points where volunteers were supposed to stand, 250 name tags to be prepared, checked and printed; audience question templates, Panelists introduction briefs, thank you notes and welcome speeches, emcee’s scripts, I was exhausting all my writing skills as the team worked full steam. “Consultant Unplugged 2009” had become our lives; the atmosphere was frenzied.

On March 19 at 7:15 PM, as I finally sat down in one of the reserved seats with the volunteers and the rest of the team, and listened to the panelists speak for the next 90 minutes or so; the constant laughter and applause from the audience echoing in my ears, I knew that we had done it!

Appreciation mails have been pouring in since the event. We had created a lot of publicity before the event and its success increased the event’s visibility manifold. The bar is now much higher for all future NUS MBA events, especially for “Consultant Unplugged 2010”
(Click here for the pictures)

Shipra Gupta
President, NUS MBA Consulting Club
Class of 2010