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Extra-Curriculars at Uni: SMU's Growth-X Consulting

Jo-Adam Mizra is a second year Business student at the Singapore Management University and serves as the Vice President of Growth-X - a student-led consultancy club in SMU. Growing up, Jo-Adam was determined to become a doctor. His vested interests in the medical field has him fascinated by the evergreen pharmaceutical health-tech industry, currently undergoing an internship at IHIS, a fully owned subsidiary of MOHH.

Why Growth-X Consulting?

As a freshman, I had a few clear objectives when entering university. One of which was to build a strong network of like-minded individuals; individuals that would spur me on in my professional and personal growth journey.

Like most other freshmen, I did not know enough about the different job opportunities that existed in the professional world. This ultimately attracted me to Growth-X since the exposure I stood to gain from working on real-life projects across various industries was invaluable. In addition, developing transferable skills like critical thinking and the ability to structure coherent arguments, enticed me to apply.

Joining Growth-X | The Application Process

What is the application process to Growth-X like?

There are three major rounds. Due to the high volume of applicants every year, the first round is used as a filter to assess one’s seriousness in applying to the club. The second round requires applicants to verbally pitch their ideas based on a case study that mimics a real-life consulting project. In the last round, applicants would go through a ‘round of fit’ test before officially joining Growth-X.

Could you elaborate on what the applicants can expect from each round?

The first round is fairly straightforward as applicants would most likely be required to fill up a form. The case study in round two would require applicants to look into different industries, from F&B and tech to even non-profits! Since the case study is refreshed every year, it is difficult to recommend applicants to focus on a specific industry. Growth-X does not expect applicants to have any prior industrial knowledge. In fact, we have realised over the years that applicants with no prior knowledge/experience performed exceptionally well owing to their ability to present a fresh perspective on initially unfamiliar topics. Within the pitch, we also look out for applicants with a structured thought process that present logical and coherent points. In the third round, we primarily look out for applicants that are self-driven and are able to demonstrate a passion outside of the academic curriculum. Furthermore, due to the nature of the club's clients with varying opinions and perspectives, applicants that boast an open mindset are likely to do better.

Behind the Scenes

What is a typical week in the life of a Growth-X member?

Our most junior members would spend their first semester learning the fundamentals of consulting. Our weekly schedule is structured such that members would spend around three to four hours in training, while the rest of the week is used for reading and preparing slides for the upcoming week. In total, new members would be looking to spend approximately 10 hours per week on Growth-X activities.

Semester two is where the fun begins. All of the seemingly ‘dry’ training and learning during the first semester would be called upon as members step-up to take on projects with actual clients from SMEs and startups. As such, the weekly commitment naturally increases in semester two.

Each project typically has three to five members - depending on its complexity. Each team’s project leader serves as the point of contact between Growth-X and the client while the other members serve as associates. First year associates would develop soft skills like client management through learning from their respective project leaders.

Outside of the structured learning and projects, does Growth-X hold any networking events?

Yes, we do! Every few weeks, the club invites professionals from a wide range of industries such as technology, banking, consulting, etc. to speak with our members. We try our best to bring in guests from industries our members are most keen on.

What competitions do members of Growth-X participate in?

We regularly send teams from our club to many consultancy-centric case competitions. One of the most prominent ones is the Singapore Business Case Competition, hosted by the NTU Business Case Club. Other external business or tech-related competitions such as the Shopee Product and Design Challenge, are regularly shared among the members as we understand that each of us has many different interests.

Advice for Juniors

How would you advise freshmen looking to join an academic CCA in University?

I would recommend freshmen to develop a working understanding of the CCA(s) they are interested in, such as which industry the CCA is geared towards, the industry norms, essential skill sets etc. Being cognisant of this allows applicants to demonstrate their interests better and is generally a good practice to adopt.However, I would advise against attempting to read up on each industry under the sun as one risks mixing up the new knowledge when asked about under a pressurised situation like an interview to an academic club.

Additionally, freshmen should attempt to network with their seniors who may already be a part of such selective clubs. The added perspective can be evaluated and considered to gauge if the club’s priorities align with their own. Most importantly, while students tend to put certain jobs and industries on a pedestal, it is of paramount importance that they do their due diligence before committing to a career path.

How can members make most of the opportunities at Growth-X?

One must be open-minded when joining any club. Growth-X attracts individuals with vastly different interests - an inevitability since our scope of real-life projects revolves around differing industries. As such, Members can learn substantially from the interesting perspectives of the individuals they interact with through Growth-X.

Last but not least, would you have done anything differently?

In year one, I was pushing my limit a little too far, juggling three CCAs with several commitments outside of school. As a result, I did not have time to participate in the winter project at Growth-X, which involved helping a bakery chain to improve its pricing model for its current and future products. This grew to become something I regretted after learning of my peers’ experience during the winter project. Looking back, I would have managed my time and priorities better to further accelerate my growth, rather than spreading myself thin.


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