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Business Research & Consulting | Cases


Gerben Wiersema, student Small Business & Entrepreneurship, participated in Business Research and Consulting:


Gerben: 'The main skill I developed during this course was to translate my academic knowledge to business practice.'

Fabian Mahoutchian, student Small Business & Entrepreneurship, and Sarah Neumann, student Strategic Innovation Management, worked on a case for an engineering company:


Fabian: 'The client's initial problem statement often varies from the actual problem.'

'In this ten weeks project, we counselled a Dutch engineering company on the improvement in sales of its patented innovation. The university granted us with full competence and responsibility for the project outcome and dealing with our client. In sequential steps, we performed an intake meeting with our client and interviewed the managers both together and separately to identify the company’s vision and its current problem(s).

Furthermore, we conducted semi-structured interviews with our client's customers in several countries to understand the product and potential strengths and/or defects. Simultaneously, we carried out an intensive market research as well as a competitor analysis to assess demand and supply. Finally, we processed the information we gathered and set it against the company’s vision and goals.

Based on our analysis, we found that there is only limited demand for the product in the Netherlands. However, we found evidence that there is a market for the product in few European countries and the USA. In our final advice report we presented the management board two distinct solutions which we broke down into five action steps based on strategic marketing measures.

During the project we faced multiple challenges, such as:

  • to work pragmatically and efficiently as a group;
  • to immediately establish a pleasant and collaborative relationship with the client's management board even though you barely know your team colleagues and the company;
  • to find the right balance between a confident though humble attitude in order to gain integrity as a student consultant and to unleash essential information;
  • to apply theoretical knowledge to a 'real life' problem;
  • to communicate effectively since the client's initial problem statement often varies from the actual problem;
  • and to meet deadlines despite time constraints and a challenging work load.

In conclusion, I found that working as a student consultant in a multicultural team was a challenging and extremely instructive experience. I would recommend everyone to make use of this unique opportunity to get deep insights into the work process of consultancy and to refine your hands-on mentality.'


Sarah: 'I definitely increased my active listening skills and how to ask the right questions in regard to the clients’ problem.'

'With two other students, we advised a small innovative machine and construction builder, which was struggling to get new clients in the Netherlands. First attempts to expand into the international markets had been conducted, but without much success. As sales were lacking behind expectations, the project goal was to find potential solutions to increase sales. In this context, we investigated current and new marketing strategies as well as methods and possibilities of cooperating with other parties. The scope for this study was on the Dutch and German markets as these were the most promising ones within the upcoming years according to the company .

Dealing with resistance was a challenging task. Showing an adequate level of empathy and really understand the client’s perspective was more difficult than expected. However, it taught me to provide more convincing arguments in everyday conversations. Also, I definitely increased my active listening skills and learned how to ask the right questions in regard to the clients’ problem.'

Did you also participate in BR&C and would you like to share your experience with other students? Please send an e-mail to!

Last modified:22 March 2018 10.29 a.m.