Management, as we are taught repeatedly, is all about making decisions within confined spaces – having limited cash, time, and capabilities. To make things worse, you are never sure whether you are right until well after the decision point (if at all). This is a cruel reality, but as I’ve learned, management is not easy.
Even so, we, the members of Team 2 (Mike Cornford, Alan Wu and myself) were hardly attuned to the incredible pressure that would be coming from the Segal Case Competition, which was held on the first day of our summer semester. The competition was in effect, the final exam for Bus723: Introduction to Managerial Thought, an overarching course that spans the entire length of our one-year program. Competing against our fellow classmates, we were determined to leave a mark.
With a time constraint of only 2.5 hours (including lunch), we worked laboriously through the 19-page case on Zongshen, a Chinese motorcycle manufacturer facing immediate transition. The length of the case determined that there could be only one reading – which we used well to take down critical notes. When sharing our thoughts, we debated over a number of points. Is Zongshen oriented towards innovation or profitability? Does the operational structure fit with a transition to “green” products? How do sustainability concerns and government policies come into play?
Team diversity really helped. Since Alan and I both have a Chinese background, we were able to contribute our views on doing business in China. Having run a venture, Mike broadened our views with his understanding of entrepreneurial psychology. Attempting to be thorough, we were lucky to have decided on the theme of our analyses, recommendations, and the structure of the presentation about 30 minutes before we were to present.
While trying to do our best, the first-round of presentation felt rushed and uncertain – not surprisingly as it was the nature of the game (definitely not for a perfectionist!). The presentation went smoothly, yet we received few questions from the judges. We couldn’t help but wonder whether it was a good sign, or if we just drop the ball entirely.
After a couple of hours waiting for other teams to finish, we were announced as finalists. With a big sigh of relief and renewed confidence in our analyses, we went in for the second round and ended up winning the trophy – complete with a bottle of champagne and lots of warm congratulations and back pats.
We are proud – not just for ourselves, but for the entire class. After two hard-boiled semesters of MBA learning, we realized that we are able to manage working with limited resources and uncertainties to leverage our competencies (MBA inside joke) and deliver great results. This is exactly what I was seeking all along in my MBA experience!
Wu Xu is a MBA candidate at Beedie School of Business, Cohort 2013. With a Bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Simon Fraser University, he has spent three years working in a Vancouver investor relations company focused on introducing North American mining firms to institutional and high-net-worth investors in Asia. For inquiries regarding MBA life, SFU, or opportunities in the Canadian mining industry, feel free to connect Wu at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his LinkedIn profile