Jan 09, 2015

OnSite Global Consulting: Increasing Bus Ridership in Uruguay

By Michael Ryczkowski T'15

Prior to Tuck, Mike worked as a manager in a health care consulting firm based out of Chicago, focusing on provider operations. He is currently in his second-year of school, and is trying to take as many classes as possible while still achieving three or more ski days each week. After school Mike will be moving to Miami to work for a boutique consulting firm focused on health care (provider) strategy.

What a trip!  Our team recently arrived back from Uruguay after a three-week stint as part of the Tuck OnSite Global Consulting program, and what a busy three weeks it was! Looking back, this has been one of the most amazing experiences of business school and something I’m so happy to have been able to do as part of my time at Tuck.

The project started with a welcome e-mail in mid-October when I was invited to join the joint project with Universidad Católica (UCU)—our team was going to be part-Tuck and part-UCU. I was excited to hear that I had been selected to be a part of the project and that I was going to be able to work with local MBA students!

We were asked to answer a very open-ended question by our client: How could the top bus operator in the capital city of Montevideo increase bus ridership, despite a falling city population? I was admittedly a bit anxious, but knew we were qualified. They were looking to us to help bring them fresh ideas without being biased by years in the bus industry. My background is in health care consulting. The Tuck portion of the team also included a public sector consultant, an individual who worked in finance prior to Tuck but is transitioning into consumer market research, and an individual with experience in marketing and technology. Our UCU counterparts had experience as a commercial supervisor at a logistics company, a systems engineer, and a service center manager. I can confidently say we were not biased by years in the bus industry and could offer them a fresh perspective. 

Prior to departing for Uruguay we quickly dove into research and began learning more about the city, the company, and the transportation industry in general. However, it wasn’t until my arrival that I began to fully appreciate that we were in a position to make a huge impact not only for our client, but also the people of the city. It was incredibly motivating to see each of us draw upon our unique backgrounds to contribute to the conversation, and though it may sound somewhat cliché, it was great learning from such a diverse group and being in a position to make such an impact!

Our last day we presented our findings to the general manager, the assistant general manager (our main client contact), the entire management team, and the board of directors. That’s right, the board was brought in to hear what we were recommending. Afterward, it was rewarding to hear them praise the “executive nature” of our presentation, and discuss how they felt some of the ideas could be acted on immediately. Our main client counterpart joked that we had given him tons of work and things to do in the upcoming year—I took this to be a good thing.

Between a tour of bus operations and transportation infrastructure, client meetings, asados, weekend excursions, two customer surveys, Peñarol futbol, over a dozen interviews with international transportation experts, and uncountable “cafecitos,” the time in Uruguay flew by. We had a great client and an amazing team. I will always remember OnSite Global Consulting as one of my defining experiences at Tuck.

*Main photo: The team posing with artwork at the client site.  From left to right: Pablo Cancela (UCU), Leslie McLauchlan T'15 (Tuck), Sean Vander Linde T'15 (Tuck), Sarah Reynolds T'15 (Tuck), Mike Ryczkowski T'15 (Tuck), Alejandra Moreira (UCU), Martin Montano (UCU).

Photo top right: The team (sans photographer, Mike Ryczkowski) viewing the on-going Bus Rapid Transit system in Montevideo during their tour of the bus infrastructure.  From right to left:  Alejandra Moreira (UCU), Pablo Cancela (UCU), Sean Vander Linde T'15 (Tuck), Leslie McLauchlan T'15 (Tuck), Sarah Reynolds T'15 (Tuck), Client Manager, Martin Montano (UCU).

Photo bottom right: Mike (left) and Sean with a “delfie” (dune buggy selfie) at Cabo Polonio (Uruguayian National Park) during a weekend excursion.

Photo at left: The team celebrating immediately following the completion of the final presentation. From left to right: Mike Ryczkowski T'15 (Tuck), Martin Montano (UCU), Alejandra Moreira (UCU), Sarah Reynolds T'15 (Tuck), Leslie McLauchlan T'15 (Tuck), Sean Vander Linde T'15 (Tuck), Pablo Cancela (UCU).