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.
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?
MODUS is an integrated project service company and technology provider for subsea and seabed intervention based in the North-East of England. It operates a range of unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) systems, used in surveying, marine trenching, construction support, drilling, and inspection and maintenance services. Since establishing the business in 2008, Jake Tompkins (MD) had acquired a number of lucrative contracts in renewable energy, oil and gas, telecommunications and defence industries. Following the opportunities emerging in North Sea offshore industries in the wake of the financial crisis, the business had grown to over £8million in revenues with a headcount of 52 people.
In 2014-15, the business faced major growth challenges on a number of fronts, which stemmed from: i) the firm’s decision to avoid speculative vessel charter due to oversupply in the North Sea ii) delivery delays on a key build project, and iii) the early curtailment of a trenching contract costing £1.4m in revenue. Reporting a fall in operating profit from £1.2m to a loss of £1.53m, Jake and his team were facing a number of difficult questions: How could the business diversify its customer base and market scope to avoid sector dependence on oil and gas, as well as reduce its geographical focus on the North Sea? Where could they identify opportunities for new market-entry? Was there potential for strategic partnerships to offset their scale disadvantages?
Vision Direct is an online retailer of contact lenses and related eye-care products. Founded in 2008 by Michael Kraftman (CEO), the current company is the result of a series of acquisitions in the retail opticians market in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. In 2014, the business completed its third round of venture capital fundraising to acquire Vision Direct, its closest competitor. The company has since trebled in size and is now the market leader in the UK and Ireland, having also bolstered its position in the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. Now at £30 million turnover with a team of 100 people working in offices in Amsterdam (25), York (50) and London (25), Michael has successfully integrated the acquisitions into an enlarged corporate structure. Having established a solid management team and an effective marketing and finance function within the organization, Michael’s current challenge is whether to appoint a Chief Technology Officer, a function he has so far carried out himself. However, a number of questions remain: Does Michael have sufficient experience and bandwidth to oversee the technology side of an expanding business? Should he promote his current Head of IT and thus hand over greater responsibility? Finally, as an e-commerce business, should technology be treated as a strategic concern, or as something more ancillary?
Company Shop was founded by John Marren (Chairman) in 1990. Following their ‘zero landfill’ philosophy, both John and Mark Game (Managing Director) share a passion for stopping good food going to waste by working with retailers, manufacturers and large brands to redistribute nearly 30,000 tonnes of residual stock each year. From its headquarters in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, the business employs over 500 people, across a national network of 18 members stores from Glasgow to Southampton, as well as 17 e-tail ‘click and collect’ factory shops servicing the employees of large manufacturers. With long-standing relationships with all but one of the major retailers and as much as a million tonnes of waste generated by the UK food industry each year, the business has growth on its mind and an emphasis on “more stock, more stores”. As they scale, John and Mark face some difficult questions, such as how to communicate their growth plan whilst ensuring the continued support of their retail stakeholders; what governance structures should they introduce to speed up decision-making and ensure strategic alignment amongst the senior management team; and can ‘Community Shop’ provide the social dividend model to hit their growth targets whilst engaging stakeholders around a vision of delivering social and environmental impact, brand protection and economic returns to their partners.