CSIA holds investment workshop
The Colby Student Investment Association (CSIA) brought Stefan Thomke, Harvard Business School William Barclay Harding professor of business administration, to the College on Friday, March 9, to conduct the IDEO Product Development case study.
CSIA is a student-run and managed organization that focuses on managing an equity portfolio and overseeing a mutual fund portfolio. The club educates students on the Hill who are interested in finance and creating networks by making connections between current College students and alumni in the financial world. The purpose of the group’s activities is “to further diversify the group’s portfolio, reduce risks and maximize returns,” CSIA Chief Executive Officer Victor Chen ’12 said.
The dilemma presented was that a company, Handspring, asks IDEO, a global design firm that helps organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow, for help on the development of the Visor, a palm-pilot like device. However, Handspring wants the product to be produced within half of the time that IDEO is proposing, which means IDEO must choose whether to ask for more time in order to effectively complete their legendary five-phase product development process, or accept or decline the project based on the current circumstances.
The participants from the College were put in the shoes of IDEO management, and had to make the difficult decision of choosing which scenario was best for the company. Their decision also took into account other factors such as company reputation, the benefit of a potential failure and the conflict of interests between two competing clients.
The case study was highly effective, and is beneficial to understand because many companies, especially investment banks and consulting firms, are using this case study in their interviews. Chen was impressed by the effectiveness. Considering that the case study model was born at Harvard Business School, he said it was an invaluable experience to have a professor from the school teach it. “Almost all participants spoke, and many of them got into an intense debate with their classmates. But that’s the [type of] management decision one has to make in the future,” Chen said.
The event was well-attended for a Friday afternoon, with over 45 students participating. Chen received positive feedback on the event with many saying that it was “an amazing experience.” Chen’s reaction toward the event was also positive. He said, “I could not have expected more. I certainly think that this kind of event should continue in the future as we see such a high student demand on campus.”