Friday, December 9, 2011

MBA Team Project

In the first semester of the Wisconsin MBA, students across specializations are grouped and tasked with “creating” a new product for a publicly traded company. This is known as the “Integrated Company Analysis” project or “ICA” for short. ICA projects are worked on throughout the semester, and final presentations are made after final exams. Our grades from these projects constitute a percentage of our final grade for each of our four core classes.

The project begins with a list of the companies that were chosen for projects last year which aren’t allowed to be used again. This policy is so that you can’t get assistance from second year MBA students who previously reviewed that same company. Companies that are chosen for ICA projects are actually notified and invited to attend the presentations. On average, about three companies come each year to view the presentations. This is a unique opportunity, as it provides the company with a vision for a possibly unconsidered new product offering, and it allows the MBA Office to show off its students and build employment opportunities.

My team of five proposed to create an internet radio, much like Pandora, for Amazon. We thought that this would complement Amazon’s existing MP3 purchasing platform. In our concept, a shopper could browse through Amazon while listening to the radio functionality, exposing the shopper to new artists or popular hits, and then songs could be purchased via Amazon MP3. Unfortunately, no representatives from Amazon were available to come and view the presentation.

The members in our group represent the following specializations: Human Resources, Supply Chain, Brand Management, Corporate Finance, and of course, Real Estate. This project fell right into the wheel house of our Brand Management and Corporate Finance team members, but the rest of us had to recreate our areas of expertise. Our Supply Chain team member was a lawyer in his previous life, so he handled all of the legal elements regarding streaming a record company’s music for free over internet radio. The Human Resources team member and I were tasked with evaluating the competitors and the marketplace as a whole for internet radio. Initially this didn’t seem like too daunting of a task, but it is becoming apparent that I was mistaken. Primarily because the internet radio/streaming music industry is so new, we are having trouble finding any applicable resources. We are working with librarians in the business library to help us with research in industry specific publications. This is a critical piece of information so that we can make projections on revenues that could be gained from advertising.

We have another week until our slide deck for our ICA projects are due, just a few days after we finish exams. Then we’ll meet with a business communications specialist and go over our presentation. Finally we’ll do our final presentations that following week.

The semester is definitely going to end with a bang. I’ve gained extraordinary experience from it, but I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to a little R & R over the Christmas break.

Jordan Denzer comes to Madison from Dallas, TX (it is often joked that he is one of the international students). Previously, Jordan managed corporate flexible spending accounts, but decided that he wanted to get into real estate development, which initiated the move to Madison. Currently, Jordan is interested in getting into historic redevelopment and/or mixed-use development projects.

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