A unique case method resource for business education within a world-leading science and technology university. Make lecture theatres come alive by applying cutting-edge concepts to real-word business situations.
In 2013, Mott MacDonald was a leading global engineering consulting firm for the infrastructure
industry, headquartered in the UK. Davide Stronati was their new Global Sustainability Leader.
As he entered head office in London on 20 July, Davide anticipated the hours ahead with
excitement. The Group Board would meet shortly to discuss the path they would be taking with
their sustainability strategy. Davide had done extensive groundwork and prepared three
possible scenarios. Would the Board embrace his radical vision of sustainability as core to
business strategy, or would they choose to keep things as they were?
This case is for educational purposes and is not intended to illustrate either effective or
ineffective management of an organisational situation. The situations and circumstances
described may have been dramatized or modified for instructional purposes and may not
accurately reflect actual events.
Photographers mob and tear at the clothes of Paul Thompson and Steve Franks as they leave
a conference they have just presented at in one of China’s major industrial cities. They are not
rock stars, however; they are the founder and CEO respectively of Water Babies, a UK based
franchise that has developed an innovative business model delivering unique swimming and
water leisure activities for babies and parents. Little could Paul have known that when he took
his baby daughter swimming for the first time that the seed of an international franchise had
been sown. Today, 57 franchisees teach 50,000 babies weekly in the UK, with further
franchises operating out of Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and China. Having
risen to the top of the list of UK franchises, Paul and Steve were beginning to ask questions on
how could they sustain the success of their unique swimming and leisure services model in
what was previously a blue ocean? How could they coordinate an international franchise
network as well as maintain quality of service? What challenges might they encounter when
entering a large and complex market such as China, and potentially even the USA?
ACWA Power is a desalinated water and energy company with a difference. While its
competitors seek to maximise profit by securing contracts with the most-generous possible
margins, the Saudi Arabian developer, owner and operator of power and water plants defies
market pricing to win – a strategy that has earned it a success rate of two out of three tenders,
as well as a growing international footprint. With ACWA’s bids on solar developments reaching
record lows, Paddy Padmanathan (CEO) was coming under increasing scrutiny from analysts
and media pundits, who could not understand how they could sustain these record-breaking
prices. In the latest auction on 5th June 2017, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)
announced it had received four bids from consortiums for the tender of a 200 MW Concentrated
Solar Power (CSP) tower project. The ACWA consortium submitted a price of USD 9.45
cents/kWh, nearly 40% below the previous world-record low price for electricity generated from
this technology. The three other bids ranged from USD 10.58 to 17.35 cents/kWh. As analysts
struggled to replicate this price in their own models, Paddy put his own team to work to
demonstrate to the world how ACWA Power’s unique financing structure could make the
I have never seen a Patek Philippe watch ‘in the flesh’, only ever through glass. I have never held or touched a Patek Philippe. I have certainly never worn or owned one, and nor have my friends. I therefore have no direct personal experience from which I can evaluate their product, yet I am convinced it is the most desirable watch in the world. My only actual interaction with the brand has been through their marketing – and it has led me to want one more than any other luxury good.
As he did every day, Andrea Rasca, founder and Chief Executive Dreamer (CED) of Mercato Metropolitano (MM) was walking along the River Thames to get to work. But it wasn’t just any other day. That day, Andrea was going to sign off on a deal with a venture capitalist – a deal which would take his innovative marketplace to Tokyo, New York, Dubai, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, and other strategic locations around the world. Andrea’s dream to disrupt food retail and food hospitality was becoming a reality: “Our approach is to draw on the basic principles of ‘small is beautiful’ and ‘natural is good’. MM is a manifesto which goes against the Nestlé and Unilever-type of business. MM revolves around individuals: small-scale farmers, local producers and members of the local community”. However, the big question surrounding Mercato in the months to follow was: Could Andrea prove he had a sustainable business model that was ready to scale globally?
Katie had been working on the deal team at Forward Partners for little over three months. In her role as investor, she was granted a huge amount of autonomy sourcing and executing deals from day one. Forward Partners is a London-based venture capital firm making its primary investments across the pre-Series A spectrum, from solo-founders to late-seed. Being on their deal team required aptitude on a number of axes. VCs have little information to analyse – which can be uncomfortable – and there was a certain amount of skill required in getting to the right reasons to say ‘yes’ to a deal. Katie had identified a potential target in the nascent ‘modelling and simulation as a service’ (MSaaS) space, where Korzan Systems was at the cutting edge. Despite the limited information available, ahead of her next meeting with the partners, Katie was required to research the market and develop her own thesis on Korzan as a potential investment by preparing a memo that could offer a balanced assessment on the opportunity with relatively little information to go on. During the next partners meeting, she would need to be ready to present her thoughts, analysis and findings on whether this was a go or no-go investment.
In 2005, Henry Goodman was head of the Protein Structure Group at Novartis. He had just finished reading an email from Brian Johnson who had a similar position at GlaxoSmithKline, one of Novartis’ main competitors. Brian had approached Henry with an invitation to join the ‘Structural Genomics Consortium’ (SGC), an academic-industrial collaboration in the areas of structural genomics. GlaxoSmithKline was one of the founders of the Consortium and at this time its only corporate member, but the organization was now looking to sign up further pharma companies to take part in this joint venture.
Guy Mucklow (CEO) and Jamie Turner (CTO) set up Postcode Anywhere (PCA) in 2001. Their data technology has made them one of the leading providers of cloud-based address management services, processing over four million transactions per day through their platform. With over 8,000 customers ranging from government departments and FTSE 500 companies to self-service SMEs, PCA accounts for roughly 50% of all addresses captured through UK ecommerce websites. This case examines the background and rationale for how a business, which has grown at a relatively healthy rate of 30% annually on 30%-plus pre-tax margins, is looking to change its focus to a more aggressive growth target of 50% annual growth over the next 5 years to a £50 million turnover. It will explore the implications for how that might be achieved in a domestic market for the company’s current services which are both competitive and relatively mature, as well as the organisational and strategic challenges to their current business model.
Today, Ellen is not only a great comedian that makes America laugh and dream every day with her humour, but she is also the ambassador of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual (LGBT) community. Ellen is also involved in a number of charites, which got her to raise over $50 million over the years. As a result of her involvement in social causes, Ellen is deemed by many as an “advocate for change” (Seacrest, 2014). Let’s briefly explore why Ellen is admired by so many, examining how she enables, entices, and enriches people. Let’s explore how she manages to enhance people’s happiness offering these three kinds of benefits. Finally, let’s explore how Ellen was able to build and leverage an admired brand for herself. Although each of these concepts would deserve a deeper analysis to be fully understood, they are strictly related to each other and they are instrumental to show Ellen DeGeneres’s brand building process.
Flying in from Boston, USA to speak to a group of female entrepreneurs at her alma mater in London UK, Dr Beth Marcus reflected on a long and exciting career as a serial entrepreneur. Beth had worn many hats throughout her lifetime, characterised by investors and media pundits at various points as a ‘tech guru’, ‘SheEO’ and ‘doctor’ of ailing start-ups. Throughout her entrepreneurial journey, Beth had faced a series of inflection points that had nearly brought an end to ventures she had started or advised. Sharing these war stories with a younger generation of entrepreneurs got her thinking: How do technology entrepreneurs monetize and scale their innovations? How do you influence partners, customers or teams to succeed? What is the key to picking a winning start-up team, one that could continually overcome the challenges of a rapidly growing business? Towards the end, a student’s hand shot up to ask the question: ‘What is the single most important advice you could give to a female entrepreneur?’, Beth looked across the faces of so many young, over-achievers and future leaders, no different to herself at that age, and said with a smile, ‘fail fast and often’.