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October 5, 2015

Professional Consulting Certificate Program Preps Students for Industry



Consulting students in the classroom sitting at desks.

After almost a year in the making, business students will have the opportunity to take advantage of the newest College of Business offering, the Professional Consulting Program. Up to 15 students are expected to be the first to graduate with a Certificate in Professional Management Consulting this spring, according to Director Suzanne Zivnuska.

“We aren’t aware of many other programs that offer business consulting certificates. We think there is a real need to provide reputable consulting firms with students who are trained and ready to enter the workforce,” Zivnuska said. She has been working closely with consulting firms such as Deloitte to ensure the program offers students the required skill set that high-end consulting firms are looking for.

The program also establishes a clear partnership opportunity with businesses. Zivnuska is excited that “project sponsors get the opportunity to work hands-on with our students and get to know them, almost like an extended interview. They can really shape and understand who our students are, as well as benefit from very low-cost consulting.” 

College of Business Dean Judy Hennessey especially welcomes the opportunity for the College to build bridges with the Chico business community, honoring the campus’ strategic commitment to civic engagement. Chico is home to many smaller companies that could use consulting assistance, but need a lower cost alternative. Additionally, alumni business leaders in regions beyond Chico regularly express the desire to support the college’s students by connecting them to real world projects, so Hennessey views this as an avenue for their engagement as well. 

During this first year the participating students will focus on several intensive projects connected with their classes. Hitachi Solutions of America is sponsoring one such project this fall, as a result of a corporate relationship forged by one of the college’s Business Advisory Board members, Rand Hutchison (MS, Business Administration, ’77). This project offers students the opportunity to act as consultants to firms in the construction industry, conducting client needs analyses and making recommendations for workflow improvements. These individual reports will then be used by Hitachi to support their own initiatives related to broadening the consumer base for their product lines.

Suzanne Zivnuska, Director of the Professional Consulting Program

Suzanne Zivnuska, director of the Professional Consulting Program

The professional consulting program is also seeding partnerships across academic disciplines and outside of graded classwork, offering a mechanism for community organizations to gain access to student consultant groups. Non-business programs on campus have been quick to recognize the opportunity to gain such expert support.

“CAVE has a thousand students who work for them every semester, visiting 50-100 different volunteer sites,” Zivnuska explains. “They need customer satisfaction surveys for the organizations they volunteer for, so the Professional Consulting Program will allow participating students to apply for the opportunity to create these surveys and bid competitively to land the job.”

With over 15 years of internal and external consulting experience, Zivnuska has a passion for this new project and is excited to get the program off the ground. Students interested in the program and organizations seeking sponsorship opportunities may contact Dr. Suzanne Zivnuska by emailing her at szivnuska@csuchico.edu or by calling 530-898-5663.