George and I spent the day meeting with our GAP company executives and employees discussing our findings so far, strategizing
about further research, and gaining a deeper understanding of the company’s history, strengths, weaknesses, and objectives. It’s all well and good to talk about the theoretical in class or strategize over HBS cases. It is another matter entirely to sit across the conference room table from seasoned executives who have retained our team of five students to provide them with insights as to where to take their business next. I think the biggest feeling that I get from this is: “this is real and this matters very much to the company we are working for.” There’s no Part B to this case, no epilogue to tell us whether we got the levers right or wrong. We’ll present our findings to the executives in slightly less than four months, and while we’ll be backed up by dozens of hours of primary research, there’s no answer key for our work. Ultimately, that’s what makes this so exciting.
We’re spending the night in Jyväskylä, Finland, about 300km north of Helsinki and about 46km south of Äänekoski where we’ll spend the day speaking with our company’s manufacturing and production team. Tomorrow evening, we’ll head south to Vantaa again to meet with the company’s board of directors and investors. Finally, we’ll spend Thursday in and around Vantaa speaking with two of the firm’s major customers.
This is shaping up to be a lot of work. Our industry isn’t exactly transparent, so it’s taking a lot of digging to understand where these products can be used, let alone get a sense of the total available market in any particular market or geographic area. Despite these challenges, we’ve got a good team dynamic, a good advisor, and a great host company.