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Graduate | Nov 07, 2018 |

Consulting challenge win leads to Hubble Contacts concept trial

Members of the winning consulting team tour the Hubble Contacts headquarters. L to R: Barbara Almeida, Sandeep Jacob, Andrew Clark, Joanne Ball, Jesse Horwitz, Jessica Nebbeling, William Noll.

Picture this: It’s your first week as an MBA student, and you’re tasked with completing a consulting project with people you have only just met.

For the Gabelli School’s Full-Time MBA Class of 2020, that picture came to life when two executives at Hubble Contacts visited campus during the Gabelli Launch orientation to present their challenge.

“Hubble Contacts is a DTC [direct-to-consumer] online marketplace for contact lens subscriptions,” says Joanne Ball, MBA ’20. “While they have been very successful in reaching their target through online social placements, they asked us to consider new ways to engage their customers.”

Ball’s team, consisting of four other students, Andrew Clark, Oliver Flynn, Sandeep Jacob, and Jessica Nebbeling, worked together to create a proposal to help the company increase its revenue.

Their idea? A pop-up shop on college campuses that would offer free eye exams and a student discount.

“This would allow them to create a physical presence for their online DTC brand and also engage their target at a younger age segment,” Ball explains.

The proposal hit the mark for the judges, Jesse Horwitz, co-CEO and co-founder of Hubble, and Barbara Almeida, MBA ’17, director of internal operations.

“They were looking to see the value or ‘quality of engagement’ versus quantity, and ideas they could test in a smaller market and expand once they could qualify effectiveness,” says Ball.

Within 90 days of the consulting challenge, the winning plan was in motion. Hubble is teaming up with Neighborhood Goods in Plano, Texas, to roll out a two-month trial of the concept this month.

Overall, Almeida says she was most impressed with what the students “were able to come up with in 48 hours.” In fact, she says, the winning idea was one her own team had considered in the past. While it wasn’t possible at the time, it was now feasible to test “because the business is at a different stage,” she explains.

For the students, “what made this experience especially memorable was that we were asked to quickly produce an actionable consulting solution for a legitimate company while we were getting to know each other’s leadership styles,” says Ball.

“I think it gives them perspective,” Almeida adds, and real-world experience in “tailoring your communication style” to your audience.

Almeida recalls that she had also learned this lesson during her time at the Gabelli School. After completing a “DISC” workshop led by Travis Russ, associate professor and associate dean of graduate studies, which helped students determine their own behavioral styles and how to recognize and work with other people’s styles, Almeida felt compelled to bring Russ’s workshop to Hubble.

To this day we still use it,” Almeida says, emphasizing an idea she hopes the current class of MBA students will take with them: “how what is being taught at Fordham is directly related to what is going on in the world.”

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