March 2024 | Q&A Spotlight

An Inside Look at the Fischer Fellowship Program: Cashel Coughlan's Experience

An Inside Look at the Fischer Fellowship Program: Cashel Coughlan's Experience

West Monroe believes in the power of giving back to our communities. One way we do this is through our Fischer Fellowship program, which grants select participants to step away from the office and use their professional skills to volunteer full-time anywhere in the world for 3 to 6 months. We debriefed with one of our recent fellows upon his return, Cashel Coughlan, to learn about his experience with the program. 

The Drive to Make a Difference

Cashel expressed a deep interest in the Fischer Fellowship program since starting his career at West Monroe in 2019. His desire to participate was sparked by a service trip he took during his junior year of college, where he helped construct children's orphanages in Mazatlán, Mexico. Cashel was moved by being able to have an impact, saying “this opportunity highlighted the joy people experience when an essential need is provided in a compassionate and sustainable way.” 

Choosing the Right Cause

Cashel chose to work with charity: water, an organization committed to ending the global water crisis. "I believe that access to clean and safe water can transform communities, improving health, saving time, and creating opportunities for education and economic growth,” he said. 

Cashel worked remotely from Chicago for most of his fellowship, but also visited multiple cities as part of his prep work: Washington, DC for a kickoff meeting, Park City, Utah for a team meeting, and Nepal for meetings and field visits with partner organizations. He found Nepal to be a welcoming and safe country with breathtaking beauty.

group standing at bridge wearing garlands

One unique aspect of charity: water that Cashel found truly amazing was their 100% model: “All donations go directly to the field, with operational costs covered by private donors,” he said. 

Exciting Experiences with Lasting Value

“The most exciting part of the fellowship for me was the field visits in Nepal.” he said. Cashel had the opportunity to see firsthand how communities benefitted from the water systems provided by charity: water and their partner organizations. 

Cashel worked on several projects during his fellowship, including building a Salesforce homepage that summarized key monitoring and evaluation information, developing Salesforce dashboards and reports, and establishing a partner review tool. He brought value to these projects through his systematic approach, project management skills, and ability to work through ambiguity. 

The Impact of Cashel's Fellowship: A Word from charity: water

charity: water expressed their deep gratitude to West Monroe for allowing Cashel to step away from his core responsibilities and support their mission. Though they were aware of the potential benefits of having West Monroe's expertise at their disposal, they confessed to underestimating the impact Cashel could have in such a short period of time.  

“In addition to being a great problem-solver, Cashel also makes for a positive, energetic, and enjoyable teammate. He made a clear effort to set up 1:1 calls with as many people as possible, learning about their background and roles (often leading to small side-projects where he was able to quickly solve problems for them as well)," said Scott Miller, Head of Monitoring & Evaluation at charity: water. “I also had the chance to spend a fair amount of time in-person with Cashel. Cashel is a great travel companion—he finds a way to stay positive and energetic (even during a 9-hour drive through the winding/bouncing mountain roads of Nepal), always offering to lend a hand and find any way he can be helpful. 

“Cashel was truly in his element among the group of water engineers at our partner organizations in Nepal, asking thoughtful questions and pulling in insights from his education and experience.” 

Added Scott: “Overall, we were thrilled to have Cashel on our team, and we may have even let ourselves believe that it wasn't coming to an end as quickly as it was. We're grateful for Cashel and West Monroe, and we'll be eager to stay in touch.” 

A Rewarding Experience

Cashel is grateful for the opportunity to participate in West Monroe’s Fischer Fellowship program, saying it "was such an awesome experience. I’m so happy I took advantage of the opportunity! I encourage others at West Monroe to seize this unique opportunity to make a difference in the world.” 

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