A group of five business and engineering students won the Boeing Co.’s 2013 Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) Case Study Competition, a contest that tests teams’ finance, market research and global strategy skills on an aerospace industry-inspired business case. The event is presented by the company’s Business Career Foundation Program.
The Beach Cruisers captured first-place honors with its team of business majors Matt Addeman (operation management), Matthew Anderson (human resource management), Garrett Doerr (finance) and Caleb Foley (finance) along with mechanical engineering major Nicole Harris.
Team X—a team comprised of MBA students Michael Diaz, Long Huynh and Trang Tran and international business major Bin Bin Cheng—finished in second place.
In addition to prizes, the two teams will have the opportunity to tour Boeing’s satellite facility in El Segundo, giving them a chance to network with company executives and get an inside scoop on job opportunities for recent college graduates. Boeing is the second largest employer in Long Beach, and CSULB is one of its focus recruiting schools, targeting students for jobs across the company’s enterprise.
“This competition is an opportunity for us to see the talent of the university, as well as a great opportunity for Boeing to get some exposure to the students who are here at Cal State Long Beach,” said Rick Gross, Vice President of Finance for Supply Chain Management and Operations with Boeing Commercial Airplanes and one of four company executives who judged the contest. “This is not only fun for us but hopefully for the students as well. Most importantly, our hope is that this is a great hands-on learning experience for the students to support their development.”
In the case scenario, team members are employees of the publicly held “SataLink, Inc.,” a top-five company in the commercial satellite communication industry that operates a constellation of 15 satellites. Ten of its satellites are projected to reach the end of their useful lives between 2017 and 2021. These retiring satellites represent a significant challenge to SataLink because procuring replacement spacecraft is a capital endeavor. At the same time, however, the fleet overhaul creates an opportunity for the company to effectively position itself in the ever changing satellite industry.
Competing teams were asked to develop a comprehensive plan for SataLink to replace its fleet of retiring satellites, focusing on satellite procurement and a corresponding business strategy. They presented their plans to the Boeing executives who judged them on how well the strategic recommendation addressed current and future market conditions and the quality of their quantitative assumptions and corresponding financial analysis results.
“From what we saw as a panel of judges and mock board, it’s clear that the students took the competition very seriously,” Gross pointed out. “The teams demonstrated good financial acumen and operational familiarity. It’s clear they studied about the market and business when they gave us the briefings.”
Gross also commented specifically about the Beach Cruisers’ team win. “The students were very thorough. They delivered a good presentation with skilled communication, and they answered questions with facts and confidence,” he noted. “The students exhibited all attributes of the material in the case study and they worked well as a team. How they interacted was seamless and integrated when they talked with us.”
“I think (our winning) had a lot to do with our collaborative effort. Each team member was like an expert in his or her own area, but we were also able to work together,” said Addeman, a senior who also presented at last year’s case study competition. “As far as our presentation, we were really confident and had a good time with it. I think that was a difference maker for us.”
In the end, though, it was all about the experience. “Win or lose, we were so (excited) to have this opportunity to develop professionally. That’s what we were telling each other,” he added. “You can’t get this type of experience in class.”
Teammate Doerr, whose mother worked for Boeing for 30 years, agreed. “We did it for the experience. It tied what I’ve been learning in school with something that was almost real,” he said. “It wasn’t a presentation in class. It was a presentation in front of executives (from Boeing). It felt very real.”
For Harris, the lone engineering major in the CSULB competition, the tour of Boeing’s satellite facility was the goal. “In the beginning,” she recalled, “I said ‘we have to win so we can do this (the tour).’”