Clubs Feature: 180 Degrees Consulting

We're in our second week of school but that doesn't mean we'll stop featuring the amazing clubs offered at UofT. In this article, we're featuring 180 Degrees Consulting, a club that is a mix of consulting and advocacy, with an aim of helping organizations reach their goals. I completely resonate with this club, as I started this Clubs Feature in order to showcase all of the unique clubs at UofT as well as helping them get the outreach they deserve. Wihtout further ado, keep scrolling for my interview with 180DC!

Name of organization: 180 Degrees Consulting - UofT Branch

Year established: 2016

College affiliation: N/A

Links to social media:

Facebook: @180dctoronto

Instagram: @uoft180dc

Medium: https://medium.com/@uoft_91759

Answers Provided By:  

Steven Camit  - Vice President Finance, 4th year, Trinity College, International Relations and Economics, minor in Political Science

Kristen Shi - Co-President and Founder of 180DC UofT , 4th Year, Woodsworth College (currently on co-op work term), Economics and Public Policy, minor in Philosophy

Matthew Fok - Co-President, 4th Year, Woodsworth College, Economics, minors in Mathematics and German

 

Tell me a bit about 180 Degrees Consulting in a few sentences or less

Steven: “180 Degrees Consulting UofT is a branch of the world’s largest volunteer consultancy that serves non-profit organizations and social enterprises. We help our clients implement strategies in order to maximize their social impact in their communities.”

Matt: “180 Degrees is an international student-run organization that provides consulting services to nonprofit organizations and social enterprises. We have over 80 branches worldwide in 33 countries. 180 Degrees Consulting is the perfect intersectionality of community engagement and professional experience for students. Toronto is our home and we strive to make our mark and see the legacy we leave behind.”

 

What made you interested in becoming a part of this organization?

Kristen: “For me, I founded 180 Degrees at U of T because I felt like most of the business clubs on campus were more about getting a job and being self-serving rather than finding a way to give back. We live in one of the most incredible cities in the world but there’s a lot of small non-profits or older businesses that could really benefit from the help of smart university students. I just felt there should be a way to help out your community while also building towards a competitive career. I found 180 in my second year have been president for two years now; it’s been such a major part of my professional and personal life ever since and has given me a lot of personal fulfillment.

Matt: “There are countless top-tier firms and business organizations that provide incredibly pricey consulting services that non-profit organizations cannot take advantage of. 180 Degrees consultants and associates spend their spare lunch hours working with our clients because they are passionate about the work. Just because local organizations cannot afford top-tier consulting firms, it does not mean that their line of work is any less.”

 

Can any student be involved in consulting? What do you think are the qualities of being a part of 180DC?

Kristen: “Yes! This is one of the things about 180 that I’m proudest about. We’re unlike other commerce clubs that limit participation to only business students. I feel that’s pretty foolish since there are intelligent people who can do complex problem-solving in all academic disciplines. We look to hire diverse teams in terms of background and age, and also have two dedicated human resources VPs to help us out on equity and anti-oppression fronts. Some of the best things you gain out of 180DC are a true connection to the local community, a dedicated 4-5 months to work on a single business goal, and tailored workshops to learn business skills.“

Matt: “Absolutely! The only quality we look for is the attitude to learn and work hard. We have third year political science students, second year business students from the Rotman School of Management, and masters students from the Munk School of Global Affairs. Our work is as diverse as the talent that we recruit. “

 

What role do you feel volunteer work and advocacy play within university?

Steven: “In a world-renowned university inside a diverse world-class city, I believe volunteer work and advocacy is a quintessential part of the university experience. Toronto attracts intelligent people who want to make a difference and make this world a better place. As UofT students, we have the resources and human capital to allow others to reach their full potential.”

Matt: “When recruiting we do not only focus on the experience or technical skills of a candidate, although that is important. The most significant characteristic we seek for in our candidates is their attitude. We work with business methodologies, Excel sheets, and build decks, but at the end of the day we need someone roll up their sleeves and get dirty. We need consultants that believe their work will ultimately improve the quality of life of someone (or animal).”

 

How can organizations benefit from 180DC? Can you tell me a bit about the process when it comes to obtaining a new client who is seeking to “reach their full potential”?

Matthew: “If you are coordinating 25 volunteer programs and 15 drop-in programs at your community centre, you do not have the capital to hire a research firm to perform a needs assessment of your catchment area. If you are overseeing a soup-kitchen serving over 500 meals a day, you do not have time to seek potential companies to build partnerships with. If you manage a team of four employees, they do not have the time to proficiently deliver that side-initiative you always wanted to implement. That’s where we come in. Many local nonprofits struggle to improve their business operations usually due to time and resource restrictions. On a typical engagement, a team consisting of highly ambitious consultants can spend anywhere from 100-400 hours on one client. It is the most fulfilling experience to see the implementation of our consultants work.”

Kristen: “The main benefits of working with us are that our consultant teams are young, charge almost nothing in comparison to management consulting firms, and are built according to client needs (we hire consultants based on the skills clients request). We have a dedicated corporate relations team that reaches out to local nonprofits and social enterprises to discuss the potential of us consulting for them. We try to do some research beforehand to figure out what pain points the company is having and then seeing if we have the capacity to solve that problem within a school year. Both Matt and I have internship experience in business settings, which definitely helps our credibility and our understanding of client problems. If the client agrees we draft up a contract and assign a team almost immediately.

 

What are you most proud of achieving since being a part of 180DC?

Matthew: “I am most proud of the team and the environment we have established within our organization. Consistently I am impressed by the quality of the work of our consultants and associates have delivered, however I am most proud of the culture that has been fostered by our amazing executive team. We work in an organization that lacks the bureaucracy of a traditional business club. We keep our hierarchy flat, so even a new first-year finance associate can message me for advice or help. In fact, feel free to message me for advice or help even if  you are not in 180 Degrees.“

Kristen: “I think standing in the presentation room of our first client, seeing our first batch of consultants present their final deliverables after months of work, and seeing the client board just light up really gave me a sense of accomplishment. It was different than winning a case competition because it felt like we had done something to help this city grow and become better. I felt a huge sense of having been a part of something bigger than myself.“

What are some of the things you’re looking forward to doing with 180DC this academic year?

Steven: “This year, we’re looking forward to expanding our club and making sure people know about us. For our members, we are holding professional development workshops as well as workshops that help our consultants in their projects. We’re also partnering with other clubs on campus to make 180DC better known across campus!”

Kristen: “We’re hoping to double our consultants and triple our clients and funding. We’ve also significantly expanded our exec to about 15 people from 7 last year. One of my personal goals is to get a client in the tech industry, since people have expressed a lot of interest in that, and also help to build branches at other universities in the country“

 

How can one get involved with 180 Degrees Consulting?

Steven: “To get involved in 180DC, you can apply to be a consultant. Consultant applications are currently open and they will close near the end of September. We encourage students from any discipline to apply and explore the world of consulting. Like us on Facebook and signup for our mailing to get any updates on how to get involved and what is going on in our branch!”

Kristen: “Either apply to become a consultant, join our executive team as an associate to help plan events or learn marketing or finance, or just come to some of our free workshops throughout the year! Pick whatever commitment level is best for you and be sure to ask any of our VPs if you have questions or want guidance on that.“