EMBA Student’s Team Project – Immediate Benefit at Work

Frank, a WEMBA 33 (member of the Wharton EMBA Class of 2009), recently told us about how his company has used, and gained from, a class project he undertook with his learning team.

The Field Application Project, the capstone of the core course, Management of People at Work, pools the talent of each learning team around a problem facing one team members’ company.

In their FAP, Frank’s learning team evaluated his company — a financial services firm started 10 years ago to serve the middle market. The firm has grown steadily, but it now faces some real obstacles to sustained growth. He explains, “We’re at the point in our evolution where we need a sustainable, segmented, tactical strategic sort of firm, and with that are a number of cultural issues. We still have remnants of a sales-driven culture focused on revenues.”

The team mapped out a revenue goal the firm could achieve by 2016, and it examined the roadblocks to getting there — compensation disparity, recruitment and retention.

“We interviewed everyone from the CEO to the sales department to talk about the interdependencies of research and sales,” says Frank. “Sales used to dictate and research was told to figure it out. You want to bring opportunities into the firm. But at this stage in our corporate growth, you have to be more discerning.”

One of the recommendations the team made was for the firm to revisit its compensation scheme with respect to non-salespeople. As a result, the CEO and COO have developed a plan that will incentivize key staff members, aligning individual compensation with transparent firm-wide profitability and growth.

Frank says, “Most importantly to me as a manager, this plan will help retain and attract the talent we need to reach our financial goals.  The plan has already impacted the organization and is helping us recruit potential significant additions in the near future.”

He adds, “I can honestly say that this would not have happened without the work that we collectively accomplished first semester.”