Tag Archives: management

Insurance Ad Wars: Foster Teams Provide Liberty Mutual Insurance Recommendations for Market Positioning

MGMT 430 students
Winning Case Competition team

This post was written by Josina Garnham, Foster’s Experiential Learning Manager for the Undergraduate program.

What do a gecko, a caveman, and a charismatic woman named Flo all have in common? Each is trying to sell you home, car and life insurance. Liberty Mutual Insurance has not opted for this approach, despite industry research demonstrating them to be a “laggard brand.” Should Liberty Mutual adopt a new marketing scheme or are there better alternatives to position them in the market for long-term customer retention?

The Foster School of Business partnered with Liberty Mutual on the development of a customized business case as part of a capstone course for graduating seniors (Management 430). The case centered on how Liberty Mutual might attract new customers and how to maintain customer lifetime value (i.e. the longer the company can retain a customer the higher the profit margins.) On November 21st, twenty-seven teams provided formal presentations on their recommendations to these critical issues to professionals, including a number of loyal alumni, and senior leaders from the company.

Strategy Consultant for Liberty Mutual, Rory Barratt “was impressed by the depth of analysis the teams were able to deliver given the short turnaround time of three weeks and felt there were many actionable insights that Liberty Mutual could use to reassess their strategic positioning.”

The insurance ad wars began in earnest in 2006 with Liberty Mutual’s competitors spending an average of two-to-three times more on advertisements featuring quirky characters. Current target customers for Liberty Mutual tend to be the parents and grandparents of today’s college students. The student’s recommendations included how the company can expand market share with new products and new customer bases – including Gen Y. The winning team: Jagger Beato, Woo Chan Lee, Jose Pena-Rodriguez, Janet Yang and Michelle Zhou proposed that Liberty Mutual shift their marketing resources, look carefully at product bundling, and renew their focus on mobile and web traffic.

The Case Competition provides students with tremendous learning opportunities: applying analytical frameworks, teaming and leadership skills, and exemplary presentation skills. For Michelle Zhou, the biggest lesson from the competition was “that effective teamwork is not only about cooperating with the rest of the team, but also about challenging each other’s ideas to improve and innovate…All of the team members constantly played the ‘devil’s advocate’ to further challenge and improve upon our original ideas. This strategy prompted us to dive deep into our recommendations and prepare for ways to defend for our (ideas) during the final presentation.”

From Janet Yang’s perspective, “the biggest take-a-way from participating in the case competition is the importance of understanding a company’s values and culture…We were able to come up with our recommendations to align with the company’s needs.”

One of the key benefits for both students and companies who engage with the Foster School on the Strategy Development Case Competition is the opportunity to meet one another in a high-performance environment. Conversations over the informal networking lunch included discussions about career paths, learning about full time and internship opportunities at Liberty Mutual, and the buzz of anticipation surrounding the announcement of teams who would advance to the semi-finals and final rounds.

As a senior transitioning to the professional world, Woo Chan Lee believes “this experience will strengthen my ability to work in teams, especially in the areas of delegating tasks and communicating through-out a project… I’ve learned the process of conducting industry/market research and the importance of balancing (the) company’s interest with potential recommendations that I will be making in any professional setting.” Barratt amplified this point from a business perspective by saying “the presentations themselves were of high quality and the students should feel confident that the skills they have built as a part of this case competition will serve them well as they enter the world of work in the near future.”

After congratulating the winning team, Tom Troy, Executive Vice President of Regional Operations, West at Liberty Mutual was impressed by the “level of engagement we encountered. It exceeded our expectations and left us longing for more opportunity to hear and see the students engage with our business opportunities.   The energy level was fantastic and the insights into our business problem proved to be both authentic and inspirational.”

To learn more about undergraduate case competitions, visit the Foster School website.

Apple products in cars?

On March 8, 2013 Foster undergraduate students competed in a case competition, which also served as the students’ capstone experience for strategic management—a required course for all Foster undergraduates. The case, “Apple Inc. in 2012,” was developed by Harvard Business School. The premise: Apple, like other firms in technology, has a number of successful products, but they also need to remain competitive. The students had to determine whether Apple can innovate on current products well enough to survive and prosper or whether they need to create new products to remain competitive.

The students had two weeks to analyze the case and develop their recommendations for what Apple should do. In the competition the students presented their analysis of the company, discussed the various paths Apple could take and made their recommendations.

Twenty teams competed and five made it to the final round. The final round teams made varying recommendations for Apple. Several suggested Apple should improve Apple TV, one of its current products. The winning team, however, presented a completely different solution. They recommended Apple create an integrated mobile device for cars, similar to the Ford SYNC® from Microsoft.

Case Competition Winners
Winning team: Shaun Maurer, Cory Scancella, Alex Auerbach, Hadis Ali, and Ben Peven

According to the team, “We compared the various strategies and decided the car system strengthens what Apple already offers, and it stays within one of their core competencies, which is producing disruptive technology. The problem with TV isn’t the set-top box, it’s that the cable companies own all the content.”  They felt Toyota would be an ideal initial partner due to shared corporate values between the two companies. The judges appreciated the team’s comprehensive analysis. Jeff Barden, assistant professor of management said, “They carefully considered the user experience, where people would use the product, and absolutely picked the right partner in Toyota.” Winning team members were Hadis Ali, Alex Auerbach, Shaun Maurer, Ben Peven, and Cory Scancella.

The second place team recommended innovating on Apple TV by focusing on making content available to consumers by forming a strategic alliance with Comcast. They felt a key improvement to the current situation would be to allow customers to consume TV content à la carte. The judges were impressed with how this team tailored their solution to the market. Team members were Gwendolyn Moruzzi, Aaron Dentler, Katie Emoto, and Rachna Hajari.

Rick McPherson, lecturer in management at the Foster School, added the case competition to the strategic management course last fall. He said, “It is an enrichment of the course to give the students real life experiences of analyzing and making recommendations to an upper management team.”

Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar benefits 3,000 and counting

Adapted from a Boeing publication

Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar's (AIMS) 50th AnniversaryManagement theories and approaches fall in and out of favor, as any experienced manager can tell you. That’s a fact of life in the business world, and one that makes the half-century staying power of the Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar, or AIMS, all the more impressive.

AIMS is a two-week residential leadership development program created and administered in partnership by Boeing and Executive Education at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Over the years more than 3,000 Boeing employees have gone through the program. All have benefited from the program’s focus on such topics as improving the global supply chain, increasing efficiencies and productivity in operations management, boosting business performance, and becoming effective leaders of change management.

AIMS celebrated its 50th anniversary in July 2012, and students of Class 97 currently in the program joined some of the past graduates and UW representatives in mid-July for a dinner and reception at the Foster School of Business to honor this milestone and celebrate the program’s many accomplishments.

Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar's (AIMS) 50th Anniversary“AIMS is a great program and a wonderful partnership with Boeing and the University of Washington said Bill Schnettgoeke, vice president of Supply and Operations Chain for Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Lean+ Enterprise Initiative Leader, who spoke at the event. “Its success is due to its ability to evolve from a focus on manufacturing to encompass Engineering, Supplier Management, Quality, among other areas – all the better to support the businesses. As we work across the value stream, it brings a cross section of people together.”

Tim Copes, vice president of Manufacturing and Safety for Commercial Airplanes, also spoke at the July 19 dinner at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“As an AIMS graduate myself, I can attest to how well the program prepared me to take on the challenges I’ve faced throughout my career,” said Copes, who completed the program in 1993. “The program’s endurance speaks volumes about its ability to give managers the skills they need to contribute to Boeing’s growth and profitability, and about the company’s commitment to developing the strengths of its leaders.”

The AIMS program is a nomination program for managers and executives from across Boeing who have at least three years of experience with the company.

Learn more about the Foster School’s Executive Education programs.

Management podcasts by Foster faculty

University of Washington Foster School of Business Assistant Professor of Management Michael Johnson and Assistant Professor of Management Morela Hernandez interviewed several other researchers and professors about organizational behavior in an Academy of Management 2008-2009 podcast series.

Audio interviews include new and notable management research on a wide range of topics such as shared leadership, trust in cross-cultural business relationships, stress and fairness. The topics are useful for leaders, managers, academics, students and workers in general. Listen to a few select management interviews below and share with colleagues or apply new insights to the workplace. See all management podcast topics.

mdj3[1]Michael Johnson audio interviews

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Work as a Calling: Interview with J. Stuart Bunderson from Washington University in St. Louis
October 30, 2009

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Early Warning Signs of Burnout: Interview with Christina Maslach from University of California at Berkeley
February 12, 2009

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Charismatic Leadership and Emotions: Interview with Amir Erez from University of Florida
July 19, 2008

morela[1]Morela Hernandez audio interviews

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Does Your Boss Trust You? Interview with Sabrina Deutsch Salamon from York University in Canada
June 24, 2009

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Perceived Discrimination: Interview with Derek Avery from University of Houston
July 8, 2008

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Team Downsizing: Interview with Scott DeRue from University of Michigan
June 7, 2008