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Pentagon recognizes Kelley School students for their impactful consulting work with NSWC Crane

Apr 22, 2024

For the second consecutive year, graduate accounting students at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business are being recognized at the Pentagon for their contributions to the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Manufacturing Science and Technology Program.

Students Eric Berggren, Christian Marshall, Jackie Ness and Emily Osbourne will be honored April 26 for their work with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division. Their recognition stems from their first-place efforts in the school’s Field Consulting Project course.

Eric Berggren, Christian Marshall, Jackie Ness and Emily Osbourne From left are Kelley students Eric Berggren, Emily Osbourne and Jackie Ness, Manufacturing Science and Technology Program manager Justin McRoberts and Kelley student Christian Marshall. The students will be honored for their work with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division. Photo courtesy of the Kelley School of Business

For a quarter century, students in the Kelley Graduate Accounting Programs have brought fresh ideas to bolster Indianapolis businesses, government agencies and nonprofits through field consulting projects. NSWC Crane has been a project client since 2017.

“It is an honor to know that the projects we worked on have the potential to make a difference for our country,” said Berggren, a 3/2 MBA student from Windermere, Florida. “This experience not only allowed us to give back for all the opportunities this country has provided but also helped us understand the impact we can have on one of the largest militaries in the world, potentially saving lives down the road.”

Joe Schroeder, chair of the Kelley Graduate Accounting Program, PwC Faculty Fellow and a professor of accounting, said the Field Consulting Project course not only provides invaluable experience for students, but it also helps Kelley fulfill a core principles of the IU 2030 strategic plan.

“We are proud of all our students involved with the field consulting projects, who spend the semester giving back to the Hoosier state by working with local businesses, not-for-profits and local government,” Schroeder said. “This is the Kelley School giving back to the state of Indiana.”

The experiential learning course paired 20 teams of students in the Master of Science in Accounting with Data and Analytics and 3/2 MBA programs with local businesses, government agencies and nonprofits in a competition to solve active business challenges.

For example, another team worked with the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce in its efforts to create an entrepreneurial hub to spur economic activity there. Other clients included the ag-tech company Anu, the engineering firm Bynum Fanyo, Earthway, Jasper Economic Development, Kabelin Ace Hardware stores, Oliver Winery and employee benefits company OptiMed Health.

Joe Schroeder, Josh Perry, James Grandorf, Emily Osbourne, Jackie Ness and Christian Marshall From left, faculty chair Joe Schroeder, associate dean Josh Perry and James Grandorf present team members Emily Osbourne, Jackie Ness and Christian Marshall with a first-place award for their consulting efforts. Photo courtesy of the Kelley School of Business

Over the 16-week fall semester course, students develop work plans, generate deliverables and recommend solutions for clients with guidance from an advisor. Throughout the consulting projects, clients receive 500 to 1,000 hours of in-depth analysis, at no cost to them.

“Experiential learning at Kelley has been one of the aspects that has made my educational experience here invaluable,” said Osbourne, an accounting with data and analytics masters student from Washington, D.C. “It gives us a glimpse of what we can expect in the working world, allowing us to feel more prepared for that first job going in.”

“This class was an exciting and rewarding introduction to what lies ahead of us post-graduation,” added Ness, a MSADA student from Chicago.

Students presented their projects at a competition in December and learned the results at a banquet on Jan. 29. The winning team will be joined at the Pentagon by Robert Thomas, associate dean for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and other Kelley faculty members.

The Manufacturing Science and Technology Program tasked this year’s winning team with improving the process flow and efficiencies of its annual call for proposals. The team expanded on a model that was created in 2017 by another group of students in the field consulting course.

“The resourcefulness of the students to build upon the efforts of our previous team was rewarding to witness,” said Justin McRoberts, the program’s manager. “Within government, we are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel, but sometimes the answer is already in front of us, waiting to be taken to the next level. That’s exactly what these students did. They demonstrated their adaptability to overcome a challenge by elevating an existing solution in an intentional way.

“Their success in this project is a direct correlation to the outstanding effort they put into it. We are grateful for their contributions and look forward to utilizing this new resource in our upcoming proposal calls.”

Last year, two Kelley consulting teams of four students were recognized for their efforts to improve workflow efficiencies and cost savings for the Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program.

For many years, the Field Consulting Project course was directed by James Grandorf, a two-time Kelley alumnus who returned to teach in 1998 after 30 years as an analyst and manager at Exxon. He retired from the Kelley School in 2017. From 2005 to 2017, he advised more than 200 student consulting teams. The award to the winning team was renamed that fall in his honor through an anonymous gift to Graduate Accounting Programs.


Kelley School of Business

George Vlahakis

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