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Consulting skills in English for applied research projects

Fraunhofer Institute for Logistics

As Europe’s leading organization for applied research, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft is a key channel through which both cutting-edge research and highly-qualified professionals migrate into the commercial world. The Dortmund-based Fraunhofer IIML works hand in hand with industrial clients to develop and apply innovative logistics solutions. Communicating the benefits of these solutions, and working with the client to realize them, are key success factors. IML’s consultants are increasingly asked to carry out these key tasks in English.

The challenge

IML’s Department of Enterprise Planning wanted to further improve their consultants' communication skills. While all their consultants had a working knowledge of English, there was a wide-range of professional experience and language skills. The challenge was to design a training program which would allow their consultants to give their English-speaking clients the full benefit of their logistics know-how.

How we helped project consultants succeed globally

Our approach was to follow the process of a project life cycle in a series of role- and real-plays. This allowed each consultant to work on their own personal skills gap; improving their fluency, their business communication skills and/or their knowledge of English logistics terminology.

The workshops followed the typical project cycle:

  • Presenting IML and the Department
  • Customer acquisition and gathering client information
  • Delivering a proposal and negotiating conditions
  • Introducing the procedure to the client’s key staff
  • Status reports and meetings
  • Presenting results and dealing with questions
The result

The program has been so successful that it is now  a core part of internal training for new and experienced consultants. Its reputation has led to it also being rolled out and adapted for other Fraunhofer-IML departments.

training design
Taking examples from current and recent IML projects, the participants analyzed what each step should achieve and which language and communication skills were needed to accomplish it.
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This set the scene for realistic real-plays mirroring the client contact, followed up with peer and trainer feedback on both language and client impact.
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