A top-ranked MBA curriculum is filled with case studies where firms in various industries attempt to solve complex issues.
The case-study approach is a great way to learn about new industries and apply standard frameworks to dissect issues faced by firms. This method of learning is very helpful as several students use their MBA degree as a platform to move to new industries, and the case-study approach gives a glimpse of what to expect. In fact, one of the most common questions in the minds of MBA graduates is about being able to deliver superior results in a new environment. This question also comes up frequently during information sessions with consulting firms that expect consultants to work with clients across different industries.
During my time at Kelley, the Business Marketing Academy has given me ample opportunities to delve deep in new industries much beyond what case studies allow me to. During our spring BMA project, I was part of a team that performed a rapid market assessment of the vehicle armoring industry for a major U.S. manufacturing firm. For the Brazil project, we are focusing on the aviation industry.
These projects have taught us to quickly grasp the critical pieces of information in a relatively short period of time and generate actionable, rational recommendations for our client.
We are also involved in providing an implementation plan. This requires us to analyze operational issues associated with our recommendation. For example, availability of skilled labor was a key issue, and this tied in to the various government reforms to increase the number of highly skilled workers in Brazil.
To set up a distribution channel, we analyzed the issues associated with import of goods into Brazil and ways to reduce the lead time required to ship products from a manufacturing facility outside of the country. These are just some of the issues we are analyzing. Projects such as these provide a 360-degree view of the industry and the roles played in the value chain.
This project requires us to understand the business of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) such as Embraer, airlines such as GOL and MROs (maintenance and repair organizations) such as Jet Aviation, and those with TAM airlines and GOL.
It was really interesting to study the challenges faced by various players. While OEMs are recovering from the impact of the financial crisis, the airline companies are competing with each other on prices to capture the imagination of the rising middle class in Brazil. The MROs, on the other hand, are looking at ways to reduce the maintenance turnaround time caused by complex procedures to import spare parts.
The Brazilian government has approved only a minimal number of air strips and hangar spaces in Sao Paulo. So several of the firms we visited were in other cities. For example, we traveled to San Jose dos Campos to visit Embraer, Sorocaba to visit Jet Aviation and Sao Carlos to meet with TAM. During several of these journeys, I was amazed at the strong infrastructure in and around Sao Paulo.
During some of our visits, we were also given a tour of a hangar where we watched the construction of aircraft.
Did I ever imagine experiencing all of this when I started my MBA?
Certainly not. And I couldn’t be more thrilled.