Written by Taylor Hunter, ISyE Communications Assistant
Driven by a passion for serving his community, Santhosh Saravanan, a third-year undergraduate student in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), has worked his way up to president of Consult Your Community (CYC). This national nonprofit organization aims to help minority- and female-owned small businesses by providing pro bono consulting. With over 90 members, the Georgia Tech chapter focuses on supporting small businesses in Atlanta.
As an Asian American, the opportunity to empower minority groups to reach their potential is important to Saravanan. The combination of his interest in consulting with his passion for social impact work made CYC a perfect fit for him.
Saravanan got involved with the organization his freshman year and immediately fell in love with its mission. “Every time I finished a project or went to a meeting, I felt fulfilled, knowing that our work is impacting the client in such a meaningful way,” he explained. As a second year, he wanted to further his involvement with a leadership position. Serving as vice president of client acquisition, he learned how to network with small local businesses and to convey different solutions to their problems. This experience prompted him to run for president.
As president, Saravanan oversees all CYC operations, maintains a connection to the national board, and generally makes sure everything runs smoothly. His ISyE classes have given him an abundance of skills that he uses to address both leadership and projects. “Whether through data analysis or business concepts, I have been able to apply my ISyE background to problem-solve and consult,” he said. The opportunity to use his undergraduate knowledge so early in his education has proved valuable to Saravanan as he moves closer to joining the workforce and getting involved in the business world.
CYC advises a variety of businesses in different fields. A project consulting for a local nonprofit that offers mentoring for students in underserved neighborhoods cemented Saravanan's commitment to the organization.
“I had the opportunity to travel to the client site where we saw firsthand the impact of our work,” he explained. “I ended up forming friendships and making connections that wouldn’t have happened without that client interaction. It was incredibly rewarding.”
His time in CYC has defined his first three years of college. As for the future, Saravanan hopes for more students interested in consulting, community development, or small businesses to get involved in Consult Your Community. The number of members has almost doubled over the past year, and he strives to continue that growth in order to reach more of the Atlanta community.
Before her last semester at Georgia Tech, Ishita Date (IE 2020) spent her summer leading a CYC team that provided consulting services to a coffee company in Raleigh, North Carolina. 321 Coffee offers employment for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) by hiring them as baristas for their permanent location at the NC State Farmers Market. The company is pursuing opportunities to open a storefront coffee shop.
Together with Saravanan and two students from other universities, Date's team created a comprehensive marketing plan for the company.
"We knew we wanted to apply a data-driven approach to the problem, while at the same time, we all had different ideas on how to do that," she noted. "While one of us researched interesting statistics on the impact of hashtags in Instagram posts, another reviewed Facebook analytics data to determine the best type of customer to target. In fact, I think the overall success of the project can be attributed to our varying schools, backgrounds, and experiences."
Date will join Deloitte Strategy as a consultant in March 2021.
-- Shelley Wunder-Smith
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering