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JMSB Students Assist Community Organization

Accenture's Accent on the Community (AOTC) initiative delivers pro-bono advisory services to not-for-profit organizations such as Action Centre Foundation with Concordia students serving as unpaid volunteers.
When Antonin Picou and his colleagues finished presenting their recommendations, Andrew Pepper, president of Action Centre Foundation, stood up and offered all of them a spot on the foundation’s board of directors. The five students had given of their time voluntarily to revise the foundations's administrative and organizational structure.

In fact, Picou, a co-operative education student in industrial engineering, and four finance students from the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) - Pierre Cosquer, Jordan Furfaro, Victoriya Gouchtchina (Co-op) and Audrey Nakad - were Concordia’s first-ever participants in Accent on the Community (AOTC), an initiative of consulting company Accenture. The program delivers pro-bono advisory services to not-for-profit organizations and the students serve as unpaid volunteers who work under the supervision of Accenture consultants.

“In Montreal, AOTC has typically recruited from McGill and HEC Montréal. Concordia was considered a potential participant if we could fulfill certain conditions,” says Mai-Gee Hum, director of Career Management Services in JMSB. “Namely, scout for potential host non-profits and identify academically outstanding undergraduate applicants.”

Throughout the summer of 2012, Hum coordinated the searches and Accenture finally chose Action Centre Foundation in LaSalle, an organization that empowers adults with physical or cognitive challenges. Following a selective call for applications, five students were recruited as AOTC volunteers.

Their mandate was to revise the centre's administrative and organizational structure. Accenture assisted by assigning three of its consultants to act as mentors. Two of them were Concordia alumni. Jad Naufal and Marc Koyess both earned degrees in mechanical engineering at Concordia and now work as consulting analysts at Accenture. “The mentors played a pivotal role in this project in terms of guiding the team in the right direction,” says Picou. “They provided leadership when needed and assisted us in devising solutions.” Because of the mentors’ busy travel schedules, the team tended to communicate with them via late-night conference calls.

Hum says the leadership at Action Centre Foundation was very pleased with the team’s suggested course of action and she is optimistic that Concordia will participate in the program again. “Combining the corporate socially responsible actions of Accenture and the talents of Concordia students to help an organization in the community is a winning proposition for everyone,” she says.

While none of the Concordia students involved in the project was in a position to accept Pepper’s invitation to join the board, all found their experience at Action Centre Foundation rewarding. “It taught us a lot about teamwork, client relations, and management consulting,” says Picou. “There are very few opportunities that allow you to represent Concordia, develop your professional competencies and help a local charity all at the same time.”

Posted March 6, 2013