Spotlight on the Analytics Consulting Lab

What is it?

The Analytics Consulting Lab (ACL) is one of Foster’s many experiential learning opportunities open to Full-Time and Evening MBA students. The course was developed as a result of deep demand for business leaders who can provide data-driven recommendations through analysis to specific business questions. The ACL strives to provide real-world learning experiences for students with sponsoring companies.

Who is the professor?

Photo of Russell WalkerDr. Russell Walker joined the faculty of the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in 2019 as Director of Experiential Learning in Analytics and Associate Teaching Professor in Marketing and International Business. He leads numerous programs and classes on digital disruption, data science, marketing, and analytics. He founded and leads Walker Bernardo, a consulting firm focused on analytics, data science, risk management, and strategy.

In this course, Dr. Walker serves as an aide, counselor, and advisor for each team. He does not serve as a team liaison or representative to the clients, and instead gives teams the ability to work directly with their project sponsors. We asked Dr. Walker to share his hobbies outside the classroom and what he enjoys most about teaching ACL:

I’m a husband and dad, so I very much enjoy spending time with my family. We enjoy the PNW and visiting national parks. I also am an avid gardener and environmentalist, so time in my garden with my plants and trees is really rewarding. Enabling growth is always fun, both in nature and business! I also enjoy football and rooting for all the sports teams from Tampa (my hometown) and Seattle (my new hometown)!

Teaching ACL is very rewarding because I get to participate in the student journey from challenge to idea to success. It is wonderful to see the accomplishments of the teams and look back on their impressive work. It is something special to complete a body of work for a firm versus taking a series of tests. It surpasses lecture classes in the experience it creates for the students and me. It makes ACL really special.

What kind of projects can I do?

Most projects in the ACL are sponsored by Seattle-based firms, professional contacts of the professor, Dr. Walker, and alumni of the school, at senior levels in their organizations. Students taking the ACL are assured a commitment from the firm to access their data and present findings to senior leadership to ensure a meaningful learning experience. New projects are sourced for each class, so no two projects are the same. During the Winter Quarter, ACL had one team working with the Seattle Kraken and a second team working with the Seattle Seahawks.

Student Experience from the Winter Quarter

Seattle Kraken Team  PowerPoint Title Slide from Kraken Project Team

In this project, the team was asked to help the Kraken organization curate better experiences for different segments of the fanbase and provide business leaders with insights into fan value beyond traditional ticket revenue. Since the Kraken team is new to Seattle, the project team was able to develop customer personas to reflect the fan base of the region. The project team also had the opportunity to attend a Kraken game together.

MBA students on Kraken Project Team

Quote from team member:

“ACL gave me hands on experience on solving one of the most complex problems in any business. The team was tasked to find the fan base (user personas) of the Kraken team, their user funnel, life time value of these fans and provide marketing recommendations on how to shift these fans on the user funnel. As an incoming product manager, this experience has definitely prepared me for my job.”– Harleen Kaur

Seattle Seahawks TeamPowerPoint Title Slide from Seahawks Project Team

In this project, the team was asked to come up with specific recommendations to present to the Seahawks’ Business Strategy & Analytics team based on identified trends or isolation of weak spots to improve the fan experience. Using 2019 data, they were able to come up with various recommendations to prepare the team for the future of live games and to bolster their plans for improving the Lumen Stadium. The project team also received a private tour of Lumen field by their project sponsor and presented their final recommendations to leadership in their board room.

Quote from team member:MBA students on Seahawks Project Team

“By far the most exciting and impactful experience I have had at Foster. This project was an amazing way to employ the competencies we spend so much time developing through the program in a real world application. Let’s go Seahawks!” – John Barnes


ACL is offered in Winter quarters.

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