3 Big Reasons Why Liberal Arts Students Make Great Consultants

A liberal arts education refers to college studies that provide general knowledge and develop intellectual ability. It is a well-rounded education that goes beyond career prep in a narrowly defined field to give students the foundational skills of critical thinking, quantitative analysis, writing, and speaking that tend to serve graduates well in diverse fields of human endeavor.  Liberal arts students tend to be encouraged to think in interdisciplinary ways. According to Albert Einstein, “The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from text books.”

Liberal arts institutions arm their students with skills which I will refer to as the “Big 3”:

  1. Adaptability
  2. Communication Skills
  3. High Emotional Intelligence

Before I go into too much detail about the “Big 3”, I will give you some background about me.…

Business Acumen and/or Technology Expertise?

The other day I came across an article regarding the top job skills employers are seeking for open positions. The study surveyed over 250,000 job postings in the U.S. and found the following top five skills in order of most to least important:

  1. Communications
  2. College Degree
  3. Time Management
  4. Teamwork
  5. Individual Motivation

I’m no recruiting or staffing expert, but I feel like “Problem Solving” or “Critical Thinking” should have made the list. Also of interest is the absence of technical expertise; none of the skills even hint at the necessity of basic computer skills.…

How to avoid being in the headlines for a “software glitch”


A little over two weeks ago we saw three major companies, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), United Airlines and, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), experience significant outages due to “software glitches”. The WSJ reported that the outage at the NYSE was caused by a software update to a critical system. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is still investigating whether the systems were adequately tested. As for United, this wasn’t the first time they experienced problems with back-end software and hardware.…

The Pitfalls of Big Data Analysis

The Power of Correlation Models

One of the main reasons we model data is to better understand the relationship between variables. With the advent of Big Data, analysts gained access to a large pool of raw, historical, data, unlike anything they’ve had before. Modeling used to require some sort of hypothesis, followed by data collection, but Big Data has paved the way for correlation models. These models don’t require a hypothesis and represent actual correlations between two variables, regardless of a direct relationship.…

From the Windy City to the Twin Cities – Transferring within West Monroe

Since starting my career at West Monroe Partners in June 2013, I always imagined I might transfer to another office – I just didn’t think it would happen this soon. On April 1st, I officially joined the Minneapolis office. After 21 months at our corporate headquarters in Chicago, it was time for me to start the next chapter of my personal and professional journey.

I am the most recent of four to transfer from Chicago to Minneapolis within West Monroe since the inception of our Minneapolis office in January 2013.…

Application impersonation and EWS with 3rd party applications in Office 365

Application impersonation and EWS with 3rd party applications in Office 365

I recently came across an interesting scenario where an application used Exchange Web Services (EWS) and an Office 365 account to access every user’s calendar in an organization. In this specific scenario, I had a hosted application outside of our organization which needed to add and remove events from any user’s calendar in Office 365. This blog post will give you details on one method for enabling this functionality using the tools available in the Office 365 Portal which are a bit different than in an on premise Exchange environment.…

How Competitive is Washington State in the Innovation Economy?

Brian 120 v3

As the director of West Monroe’s Seattle office, I was very interested to read The Technology Alliance’s assessment of the health of the local technology economy in their recently published report, “Benchmarking Washington’s Innovation Economy.”

The report analyzes how Washington State’s technology sector performed in 2014 compared to 11 peer states with technology-intensive economies under three pillars: research capacity, entrepreneurial climate, and education systems, all of which are essential drivers of a thriving technology sector.…

Tableau: Beyond the Buzzword – Part 1


Tableau Software has created a lot of buzz within many mid-to-large-size organizations.  These companies are looking to make the most of their ever-increasing data, knowing that gaining insights into their business is crucial to their ongoing success. These goals often bring attention to data visualization tools like Tableau. Although it has been around since early 2003, many companies still have a big question regarding Tableau: what is the business value and is it worth the money?…

The Leaf-Spine Network Simplified

The world of IT is continuously changing, sometimes even daily. My last blog post was written with the intent of introducing a new type of network hardware configuration model. This is exactly what it turned out to be – only with a plethora of technical jargon meant to illustrate the complex configurations and convey the ideals behind this new architecture. Now, I want to introduce this complex idea from the dynamic world of enterprise networking to individuals without a technical background.…

How Retail Companies in Emerging Markets can Work Smarter

With the world’s second largest economy, China is a rapidly growing force within the global economic community. China has experienced remarkable growth rates averaging 10% for the last three decades, resulting in a strong demand for labor. For instance, total urban employment increased by 115 million from 2001 to 2011. However, as China’s economy continues to develop and the labor force must find ways to meet the demand, the focus needs to be placed on working smarter and not just merely working more.…

Value Chain Reporting: The Next Step in the Evolution of the Annual Report

In a short span of time we’ve seen corporate annual reports evolve from a report documenting only an entity’s financial standing to an all-encompassing report that factors in the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social. Long gone are the days where a major corporation can deliver just a financial report to its stakeholders. Now, companies must also disclose the environmental impact (emissions, water consumption, etc.) and social impact (fair working conditions, training of employees, etc.) of their business operations.…

US Supreme Court Decision on EPA MATS Rule

The US Supreme Court’s June 29th 2015 decision to send the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (“MATS”) rule back to the DC Circuit Court, while a narrow victory for opponents, is by no means the end of the debate. The Supreme Court ruled that EPA did not adequately consider the costs of the rule – which would cap emissions of mercury, toxic metals, and related pollutant emissions from oil- and coal-fired power plants.…

Optimizing Distribution Groups with Office 365 Groups

If you are an Exchange administrator in an Office 365 environment, then you will have noticed a number of cool features new to Office 365 such as Groups. In this post, I will provide a simple solution to optimize the inclusion or exclusion of all Office 365 Groups in an Exchange dynamic distribution group.

The new Group functionality is great for teams and projects because it enables shared mailboxes, calendars, and documents in a unified way that eases collaboration within Office 365.…

Exchange 2013 Sizing — Tips and Tricks Part 2


In our previous episode, we discussed the Exchange Server Role Requirements Calculator, and provided some tips on setting it up to do your Exchange 2013 sizing.

Let’s continue the discussion with discussing what drives Exchange server resource requirements.

Activity Levels Drive the Gear Train…

Key inputs for an Exchange 2013 sizing include the quantities of mailbox data the system will store, the amount of daily message traffic it will transact, and the types of clients that will be interacting with it.…

Sustainability Touches Work and Recreation

The Energy & Utilities team of West Monroe Partners recently had the opportunity to visit a methane digester, solar array, and brewery during its bi-annual collaboration retreat in Eau Claire, WI. You may notice an outlier in that group of tours. How do Leinenkugel and other breweries relate to sustainability?

One of the first things you notice on a tour of any brewery is that it takes a large amount of energy, water, and resources to make beer.…


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