Global Business Fellows Provide Consulting Findings to Global Petcare Firm Based in Spain

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Last month, Global Business Fellows students presented their consulting report to client companies in Spain as part of the final deliverable of their undergraduate Global Business Experience course (GBE) at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. 

Jason Gold (B’22), Aidan Burke (B’22), and Samuel Reiter (B’22) were members of the student team who consulted for Barcelona-headquartered company Affinity Petcare, which sells pet food in over 60 countries around the globe.

On adjusting to consulting remotely:

Unlike prior years, students could not travel overseas, however they took advantage of technology to engage with company representatives located in several countries.

“We were able to meet with the head of the international business unit, head of marketing, and a regional director of Affinity on a bi-weekly basis while they were located in Barcelona, as well as meet with two area managers, who were in Warsaw and in Moscow,”  said Gold.

According to Burke, “being able to hop on a Zoom call with an area manager thousands of miles away with the touch of a button made our work much easier. It speaks volumes to the global nature of business today that we were able to effectively collaborate with business actors across the world.”

Taking classes remotely at the school for over a year since the pandemic started also eased the process of remote work for the student group.

“We were able to adapt our recommendations to a format best-suited for teleconferencing after a year of learning best practices for distance education at McDonough,” said Reiter.

On learning about the client and the industry:

The pet food industry in Europe, and globally, is extremely competitive, where large companies have high-market shares and presence.

“European markets are incredibly diverse and host to a number of different competitive dynamics. It was quite interesting to see themes that took root in the United States decades ago start to play out in places like Romania, Poland, and Russia,” said Burke.

The team was tasked with devising an integrated strategy for Affinity to take advantage of e-commerce trends without undermining their current relationships with offline channels and distributors. 

“Balancing an omni-channel strategy is something that companies across industries are attempting to figure out, and it is a billion dollar question,” said Gold.

One of the team’s biggest challenges was to separate the international markets they were planning to focus on,  given the cultural nuances of each country. 

“When developing our final recommendations, we had to account for the unique differences between countries that we had assumed would be extraordinarily similar,” Reiter said.  

On how the GBE course helped with the understanding of global business:

“As Professor Ricardo Ernst likes to describe it, this was a real-life business case,” said Gold. “From talking with representatives in Poland, Romania, and Russia, as well as doing  extensive market research, we were able to understand how companies compete in a globalized world from the perspective of Affinity Petcare.”

Students also put into practice the concept of “glocalization,” the theory of adapting a global solution for the specific nuances of local markets. 

“It is very difficult to employ ‘glocalization’ in practice, and this project has demonstrated all of the challenges that are associated with doing so,” said Burke.

“Working with Affinity provided us with a foundation for developing ‘glocalized’ business strategies once we enter the workforce, and we look forward to future opportunities where we can use what we learned in our Global Business Experience,” said Reiter.

In addition to Affinity Petcare, this year’s Global Business Fellows consulted for other companies with operations in Spain including Argola & Redislogar, Singular Bank, and SpotAHome.