By, David J. Roman
Thomas Edison founded General Electric (GE) in 1890. GE was created from a variety of businesses related to his inventions like the dynamo and incandescent lamp. Since then, GE has grown into a massive conglomerate that focuses on “building, curing, moving, and powering the world”. Thunderbird was invited to select a team of top first-year students to represent the school at the 2014 GE ECLP Case Competition, hosted by USC in Los Angeles, California. The selected team performed well in each of the three phases of the competition: case analysis, solution development, and product pitch.
Five schools joined to the opening case revelation call on October 30th, 2014: Thunderbird School of Global Management, Southern Methodist University, University of California at Irvine, University of Southern California, and University of Arizona. Representing Thunderbird were Caroline Hafele, Yash Saboo, Alina Buzgar, and David J. Roman.
The case was brief and asked very broadly for two recommendations for new products related to the Industrial Internet that GE could implement profitably. It was clear to the Thunderbird team from the start that the wide scope of research and the product selection process were big challenges. The team explored many alternatives across the power, transportation, healthcare, and capital industries.
The T-bird team conducted intense research and continual vetting of its selected products, finding just 2 days before driving to California that one of their solutions faced a roadblock which destroyed its profitable feasibility. Combined with an eye-opening dry run of the draft pitch later that day, the team set to work vigorously to refine the new pair of products.
Both products were in the healthcare industry, and they tackled both top threat disease management and preventative health promotion through connected biometrics, and managed care organizations, and secure interaction platforms.
The team pitched their innovative healthcare solutions the morning of Friday, November 14th. A 4-member panel of esteemed GE Experienced Commercial Leadership Program (ECLP) alumni judged the pitch and provided insightful advice and comments afterward.
The Thunderbird team demonstrated strong research, excellent presentation slides, and rich handouts and supporting material. In the end, the chosen scope of implementation and the number of handouts became the main detractors that resulted in them finishing just behind the winners from USC.
While the T-bird team didn’t bring home the trophy this year, they certainly brought back a wealth of new understanding, great connections, and a renewed inspiration to keep promoting innovative solutions that create sustainable prosperity worldwide!
We would like to thank Thunderbird leadership for their unwavering support sending the team out to participate in this competition. A special thank you to Prof. Elizabeth MacDonald and Prof. Rick Baer whose advice were instrumental to constructing a powerful presentation. We also thank CMC Director Guy Groff for his invaluable mentoring and the entire CMC team for being such a trusted advisory team. Our acknowledgements go out to Fall 2014 MBA class who gave their time and helped our team every way they could.