Experiential Educator Feature

Geoffrey Chellis

President and Founder of Expedia Consulting Group, Adjunct Faculty
Montclair State University

How do your students benefit from experiential learning?

There is a big difference between talking about business strategies and actually developing them. Experiential learning gives students hands on experience tackling a real-world problem and formulating meaningful solutions. By doing so they get to put theories into practice and hone critical skills needed to be successful in business. The biggest benefit to the students from this experience is that they have tangible results to showcase in their job interviews rather than just discussing business concepts and theories.

What skills do your students use when engaged in experiential learning?

Students go through a full strategic consulting methodology from Situation Assessment, to analyzing the Competitive L andscape, information gathering from Subject Matter Experts, and Idea Generation to solve the business problem.  In doing so, they sharpen their critical and inventive thinking, as well as their skills of persuasion to make their business case.  Most important, they develop the street smarts to come up with a compelling solution within the limited time and resources provided. 

How do companies benefit from participating in an experiential learning project?

As a corporate executive myself, I know that one of the greatest challenges is maintaining objectivity and a clear mind for creative thinking. Students bring with them an objective outsider’s perspective and a single-minded focus on the business challenge. They can ask the hard, necessary questions and shine a spotlight on the company’s blind spots. They can take a fresh look at the data, research and reports, often connecting the dots from the subtle patterns within the information. And they have the ability to gather information from company suppliers and competitors that the client can’t easily do on their own. But the real payoff is when they leverage these insights to generate creative solutions to the business challenge. 

Can you give us an example of a successful experiential learning engagement that you've coordinated/delivered?

I recently worked with a global sportswear company who wanted students to come up with ways to deep the loyalty of today’s generation of runners. The students were divided into 4 teams, each of which had to do extensive data gathering, interviews with subject matter experts, multiple ideation sessions, 3 rounds of client engagements, and present the business case for their best idea. To our amazement, each team came up with a different breakthrough idea, all equally compelling, and the company commented how the 4 ideas combine into a rich solution set for them to pursue.

What's the most challenging part of being an #ExperientialEducator?

The biggest challenge is defining a business challenge that is meaningful to the company and achievable by the students within the timeframe available. Companies need to provide students with enough research, industry studies and data to get them up the learning curve quickly. All the participants in the project will sign non-disclosure agreements to ensure confidentiality. Companies also need to dedicate a reasonable amount of time for periodic check ins with students to serve as sounding boards for their ideas.

What do you value most by working with CapSource on an experiential learning program?

CapSource is not only a tremendous matchmaker, they dramatically speed up the process for the company and university to scope out a meaningful project. They also provide a technology platform that makes it easy to keep everyone informed throughout all phases of the project. 

author profile default

Geoffrey Chellis

President and Founder of Expedia Consulting Group, Adjunct Faculty
Montclair State University
Geoff Chellis is the President and founder of Expedia Consulting Group, a strategic marketing firm that helps corporate executives translate their business visions into results quickly.
Geoff draws upon an MBA in Marketing at Northwestern University and 40 years of experience launching new business initiatives in the fast-paced worlds of pharmaceuticals and financial services. Through his consulting firm, Geoff has provided strategic guidance and management of over 90 new product launches at leading pharmaceutical firms such as Pfizer, Novartis and Lilly, along with numerous biotech startups. Previously Geoff has held senior Marketing positions at leading financial services firms such as American Express, Fidelity and JP Morgan. Geoff provides an objective point of view together with a simple and effective launch approach that expedite decisions, minimizes risk and maximizes results. He was featured as the “Launch Master” in the book The Change Maker's Playbook by Amy J. Radin.