Leading MBA students complete Networked Society tech challenge
The boldest strategic recommendations to Ericsson for alliances and acquisitions in energy and healthcare earned the top prize in the Sixth Annual International Tech Strategy Business Case Competition, held on March 24-26, 2011 at Boston University.
The winning team of four students from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada consisted of Hussein Govani, James Larsen, Daniel Moro and Paul von Martels. Standing behind an oversized cardboard check symbolizing the team’s USD 25,000 win, von Martels explained their tactics: "We decided we needed to be bold and say that Ericsson needs to become fully integrated, from devices all the way to the cloud.
"Even though there are opportunities for natural, organic growth, we decided that Ericsson should be looking for partnerships and acquisitions," he said. "We researched and screened and came up with two companies we thought were beneficial to Ericsson."
The problem that the teams faced for this version of the business case competition was how to devise Ericsson’s strategy for doing business specifically with the energy and healthcare sectors in the Networked Society. After they presented their results at the semi-finals stage, the groups were mixed up and then teamed with participants from Global Perspectives Leadership Program to propose applications in either energy or healthcare.
Kristoffer Sjöström, Head of Security Operations at Ericsson and a member of the company’s Global Perspectives Leadership program, said: "We understood fairly quickly that we had very different backgrounds. Those of us from Ericsson were very strong in telecoms, and some other team members were strong in marketing or engineering, so we leveraged our different capabilities."
Sarah Friedman, a student from Haas School of Business at the University of California in Berkeley, said the mix was a great idea. "The ideas we started with are pretty far from what we presented in the end," she added. "We stepped outside the box and came up with different conclusions,” she explained, adding that this part of the competition would be the one she would remember the most.
In the early afternoon, Georges Antoun, VP Product Area IP and Broadband at Ericsson and Mike Lawson, Professor and Senior Associate Dean at the Boston University School of Management, judged the entries. Winners included a team that came up with a healthcare app for pets.
The main competitors, however, were center-stage again by the evening. Ericsson’s Andreea Timberlake, VP Program Management at Region North America based in Dallas, Texas, judged them for the second year in a row. "I think the specificity of the case this year within healthcare and energy allowed people to do more research and find more facts and figures. That stood out," she said.
Timberlake praised the winners for daring to make a strong recommendation and for identifying Ericsson as an architect, not just a player, in the Networked Society.
All competitors had been up for 24 hours straight, but these Canadians were not planning on catching up on sleep just yet.
Team member James Larsen admitted: "The hockey team is in town and we thought we’d celebrate with them first before going home."