Every year, senior lecturers Greg Stoller and Patricia Hambrick work with companies to develop case studies that are designed to challenge the students’ real world application of their knowledge. They invite industry leaders to mentor the students. The students assess the case study and then make relevant recommendations. This year, the MBAs were given a case study of a tech company that was recently acquired. They were charged with deciding which of three product lines the company should strategically focus on for the next twelve to eighteen months. In making their decision, students also had to consider the recommendations they thought could realistically be implemented within the next three to five months.
Nine teams of students looked at the company pre and post acquisition, worked with mentors to develop their analysis and present their decision to the company at the end of two days. Among the mentors were Ray Hamel (CEO, Westwell Inc.), Kaarina Kvaavik (Owner / Co-founder, Language I/O), Ben Littauer (Angel Investor), Ellen Bohn Gitlitz (EVP, Charles River Insurance Brokerage), Drew Hannah (Founder, Drew Hannah LLC), Steven Bock (Cofounder & Chairman at Swaponz, Inc), Ken Parker (Lecturer, Questrom School of Business), Janey Bishoff (CEO, Bishoff Communications) and Mark Gitlitz (Business Development, DBE Innovation Group). They represented diverse professional backgrounds including technology, venture capital, finance, and law.
“The client was very impressed at the level of understanding the students had after only two days of assessing the business,” Stoller said. “Team 2, mentored by Kaarina Kvaavik, owner / co-founder of software company Language I/O, won. I can say that Kaarina’s knowledge of technology and teamwork really helped her group do something they might not have otherwise been able to do.”
PEMBA student Gavin Williams attributed his team’s success to practical classroom concepts, “I think we understood the business topics and tried to look at it as a business case like we do twice a week for school.” Fellow teammate Ryan Hayes pitched in with invaluable tips for future participants, “Plan carefully, have a strategy and make sure you divide the work among team members.”
The winning team received a $2,000 award and the second place winner received $500.
“I love working with students,” Kvaavik said. “I was fortunate to have numerous outstanding mentors who helped me immensely on my own path to entrepreneurship. I’m grateful that any advice I can offer or time I can provide might do the same for someone else.”