Back in 2019 as part of the student consulting project Vidhi Dwivedi (Full-Time MBA 2019) took on the challenge of working with Carpe Diem, an independent boutique hotel in Santorini, managed by alumnus Sotiris Kopatsaris (MSc Management 2017). The project brief was to achieve 10%-20% cost savings within 1 year whilst maintaining brand value. Not only did the team achieved this, but their recommendations are still relevant today and have supported the business through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vidhi discusses the highlights of the project and how this learning is helping her in her current role.
As part of the Group Consulting Project Module for my Full-Time MBA I managed a project for Carpe Diem Resorts, delivering end-to-end analysis from hypothesis ideation through to execution and completion.
Carpe Diem, an independent boutique hotel in Santorini, was facing the challenge of high costs associated with managing and operating a luxury hotel, despite seeing increases in revenues over the past few years. My team was tasked with helping Carpe Diem better manage expenditure to achieve 10%-20% cost reduction within 1 year whilst maintaining brand-value.
To help produce practical recommendations for the client we first engaged in a phase of in-depth research, deploying various methodologies including industry analysis and customer surveys, as well as an on-site visit to gain understanding of the business problems. We had extensive conversations with the Managing Director to better understand the nature of the business on the ground and even visited several competitors as part of the study. From analysis of the data and qualitative conversations, we produced several recommendations for driving their cost efficiency program.
As part of the process we received feedback from the Business School’s experienced consultants who provided guidance on our progress and how to improve.
We ultimately provided both our insights from the research and specific recommendations to help improve overall net profit of Carpe Diem in each individual area of their hotel business such as food & beverage, spa, rooms, etc.
What did you learn throughout the process?
I learnt a lot about delivering a real-world consulting outcome.
Whilst every team member was working on individual parts, it was important to have someone take on the role of project manager to oversee progress and to guide the team. I was fortunate to be nominated for this role and through this I learnt to manage a project and own it.
I learnt how important it is to have the right team with the right mindset and to have team members with different strengths to your own, who think differently to you, as it brings valuable perspectives to the project.
I learnt practical elements of stakeholder management and negotiation. We had to negotiate on all aspects of the project from milestone dates, budgets, resources, project scope, communication requirements, and sometimes even the definition of success.
There is also a delicate balancing-act between agreeing to what the client wants vs. what you can provide with the limited resources and time you have available. Something which is helpful when faced with similar decisions in your post MBA role.
This project also taught me to actively respond to change which is what you will constantly face in your career. The problem statement we started off with was not what we ultimately worked on and there was a lot of back and forth between us and the client as priorities changed over the course of our project. We had to learn to pivot and pivot quickly, which has been a useful skill I employ in my career today.
I learnt a lot about my own working style in a team comprised of different skillsets and how to adapt to different working styles to suit the individuals of the team. For instance, one member of the team was highly skilled in data analytics which I had to learn to direct to the relevant areas of the project and showcase this work to the stakeholders.
I learnt how important it is to have the right team with the right mindset and to have team members with different strengths to your own, who think differently to you, as it brings valuable perspectives to the project. My team all came from different career backgrounds and had different skillsets. As a team, we had extensive experience in Data Analysis, Business Strategy, Market Research, Financial Analysis and my own experience in the hotel and tourism industry. This reinforced to me the importance of setting clear objectives and goals for a project and aligning on expectations beforehand, allowing for mapping the skills of the team to the project and this is something I bring to my role as Business Analyst and Experimentation Lead - EMEA at Agoda Ltd.
What were the highlights?
Aside from our visit to Carpe Diem which was beautiful, it is the fact that our work and project holds relevant even today. This makes me very proud of our achievements.
The fact that Sotiris reached out to me earlier this year, to share how useful the project proved to be for him and his team since its completion, made it a very rewarding experience. And even more so that it is still bearing fruit through the COVID pandemic when the hospitality industry was suffering most. I wanted a project that had impact beyond the MBA grades, and it did, which was truly satisfying.