Management and business consulting is one of the fastest-growing careers in America, predicted by sources such as MONEY Magazine to grow more than 20 percent over the next decade. But the path to landing a job in consulting isn’t always laid out for business students. That changed this spring at Mays, when a trio of former students brought a dozen consulting pros to campus for a consulting case competition.

In an intense weekend in March, 60 students in every field from accounting and finance to engineering had less than 24 hours to prepare a strategy analysis for a business-to-business wireless service provider facing a major transition. They pitched their ideas in teams to 12 judges from consulting kings Katzenbach Partners, Alvarez & Marsal and McKinsey & Co.—names that resonate as trusted advisors in the boardrooms of top businesses across the country.

It was the first time some company representatives had been to campus. And for many students, it was the first time they had even been exposed to possibilities in management consulting.

“In some ways, the focus on certain top companies has been too narrow and has not presented a broad array of opportunities available to students,” says first-place winner Graham Gilkerson, who will earn his BBA in accounting and master’s in finance this May. Though he’ll go on to a career in investment banking at Banc of America Securities, he says the foundation has been laid for more Aggie consultants in the future: “Events like this will help students learn more about prospective careers and the companies therein.”

The competition is the brainchild of three recent graduates who wanted to show students firsthand what a career in consulting might look like, while at the same time exposing the biggest names in management consulting to Texas A&M. Alec King ’00, a senior associate at Katzenbach Partners, joined the energy and drive of Alvarez & Marsal Consultant Payal Patel ’06 and KPMG Associate Clark Bosslet ’06 in breathing life into a competition that will become an annual to-do.

Though both Patel and Bosslet are only in the first year of their careers, they were inspired by lessons from their own education and the support of Mays Associate Dean Martha Loudder to fill a void in opportunities for students. Their idea is simple enough, and smacks of the service orientation many Aggies graduate with: If you see something missing, find a way to provide it.

“Our education at Mays made us see how much change is possible,” Bosslet said just months after graduating this summer, when the trio first made plans for a consulting competition. “You go out into the real world, you see graduates from other schools and the opportunities they encountered, and you see what else we could be doing. We’ve always been taught to do our best to make possibility into reality.”