Academic Master


Critical Reflection for the consideration of Stefan Ellis-Hao in the light of Case Study “Modeen Gears”

Case Overview

The case study “Modeen Gears” describes the overall approach of Stefan Ellis-Hao (CEO) with regard to the expansion of business while ignoring core business management process required to excel globally. His overall decision of investing profits in acquiring new businesses in US market who were struggling to make big profits didn’t turn out to be wise enough. Therefore, the case study itself gives a lesson about fundamental practices of a global organization. Being overambitious and not listening to other’s viewpoint is damaging in the context of becoming a global organization and entering the new market even if someone is CEO. Stefan had a plan since 1995 to penetrate US market by effectively developing a world-class operation. He had a great sense of admiration towards American management policies, he always liked the style of American management in terms of their tough dealing and hard talking. This analysis gives a critical review of Stefan’s practices as a CEO of Modeen Gears and a manifesto that could help him to get a position in a global organization, specifically based on question 2.

Case Analysis

Training of Modeen Gears management

It is the vital aspect for any organization to develop and prosper globally. The globalization is shrinking the world, that is why management should be trained enough to meet the challenges globally. Ideally, training should be given to all the staff members and especially to those who are involved in the major operations of the company (Clinton, 2017). The staff of any organization should be aware of the global trends, new technologies, and management with leadership roles. Early training enables employees to undertake the assigned job effectively and work in global perspective (Katz, 1997). This training concept is contrary to Stefan’s approach as he never kept enough budget for training which resulted in the less specific training of the employees. He deemed MBA degrees as a huge investment plan, some manager though stressed for funding business degree programs including MBA but Stefan had a strategy of non-investment in few without considering the fact that few top managers could be the key to organization actually, no one alone can make the difference rather it’s a teamwork that gives company success (Vallaster & Chernatony, 2005; Iansiti & Levien, 2004).

Effective communication with Employee

An openness in communication leads to better results in global perspective. Managerial staff and other employees should be taken on board for smooth and effective operations. Encouragement from higher management works as a morale booster for staff that is why engaging employees at different levels is necessary. It further gives employees a sense of ownership and involvement. As a result, the overall organizational culture gets better and it leads to productivity (Kotabe & Helsen, 2014). The CEOs and top management got to have this trait as it gives huge benefits in long run. However, Stefan Ellis-Hao lacked this ability as he hardly took tips. Chairman James also advised Stefan to act more like a CEO and stop behaving as a managing director (Urquhart, 2013). James also wanted to engage Stefan in communication but Stefan always considered it less meaningful and against his temperament.

Giving international exposure to the staff

Employees at all the levels contribute to the company. Therefore, in order to make a company, truly a global company, its employees should also be given international exposures so that they can develop an understanding of multicultural environments. For this purpose, traveling to different countries is necessary for them to get a picture as to how corporate affairs are run across the globe (Clinton, 2017). International exposure opens up new ways to carry out tasks in global perspective. Global managers need to develop their communication skills so that they could communicate with managers outside.

Resource management

The optimal utilization of resources is the key to a global manager or a CEO. He/she should be fully aware of their available resources with a knowhow of their effective utilization in the benefit of the organization. This is achieved through proper planning. These resources include finance and human resource. In this regard, risk awareness is also an important factor. High profits can be achieved through proper risk awareness and as a result chance of loss gets minimum (Vallaster & Chernatony, 2005). The global responsibilities of a CEO include the promotion of risk awareness. In an organization when everyone works for development, keeping in account the possible risks, the outcome is always in the interest of the company.

In case of Stefan, he couldn’t do resourceful management as he was desperate in making deal with Jerry to enter US market, he wanted to acquire Jerry’s business. In the process, he ignored the risk, he didn’t have money but still, he had paid the US $ 3m to Jerry. However, James knew that this act of Stefan had put the whole business at risk and it’s also against the advice of their bank (Hamel, 2000). If bank asked to pay back any of their six major loans, they would be out of business (Lasserre, 2017). Also, Fiona, a strategist(who ran the core business unit) knew very well that with a fixed goal of global business with multi manufacturing sites would be against the interest of company considering the up gradation costs of old equipment of acquired businesses. Stefan failed to analyze this element before going for the acquisition. This was poor planning on his part.

Awareness of sophisticated new corporate structure

This is the key factor in order to comply with prevailing global trends. Functions of different departments must be analyzed time and again in order to evaluate their performances in connection with company’s operations. For this reason, close collaboration with HR department is essential as HR constantly evaluates the performance of company’s employees (Vallaster & Chernatony, 2005). Fiona, in comparison with Stefan, had a better awareness of sophisticated new corporate structure that is why operations directors were looking to replace Stefan by Fiona. Stefan didn’t realize the demand of his role of guiding and being supportive.

Innovative Approach

This is highly required for the prosperity of business. Every business, project and design need to be updated according to the new technologies. This helps to derive the optimum level of output by consuming less time. For example, a factory owner having 20 years old machine should consider replacing it with the latest model in order to make it much more productive or replace its old parts with new ones (Osland, 2007). Global trends are being heavily influenced by changing technologies. In the case study, Stefan couldn’t analyze that customers of Modeen gears have already shifted to new versions in performance cars. This suggests that Stefan had not carried out proper market research. However, Fiona had already revealed it to HR under the condition of non-disclosure by them (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004). Stefan was only pursuing his intensely longed plan and as a process, he overlooked the core functions of CEO.

Defining the regions

As a part of expansion plan, it is essential to know as to where the company will be operating effectively. Some areas are suitable for business. Whereas, chances of success are less in other parts of the world. This doesn’t necessarily mean the region in terms of the continent. The general point is that one can define regional strategies by keeping in mind the demographics, trends in the market, competitor’s situation, feasibility etc. all these factors play a major role to enter a new market (Morgan, 2006; Bauman, 2013). In the case study company’s unit was ok in Italy but India was showing growth indicators but system failure on regular basis was the major hurdle in their growth plans. Under these circumstances, entering new system was not worthwhile. Therefore, Stefan’s decision of entering US market and capturing it in 10 years was not right.

Positive attitude and Behavior

One of the most important features that play a key role in becoming a global leader. If a CEO is considerate towards his/her employees, he earns respect but if he lacks the patience to stand arguments then it’s not a right approach as a business leader. In the case of Stefan, during the last few years, he fired four MDs which is not a sign of positive attitude. Whereas, the chairman James always wanted him to appoint managing directors and give him adequate training and give them growth plans. He was fully aware that his MDs were intelligent and had critical thinking. Stefan couldn’t make a deal with Jerry to acquire his business as a part of his plan. Also, this was not a viable option for the company (Leidner, Alavi & Kayworth, 2010).

Moreover, Jerry had established loyal customers for his business which he didn’t want to lose. Therefore, it was just a miscalculation on the part of Stefan to acquire new units. When Stefan was taken over by Fiona, he thought he left the company at the peak of his career leaving behind his legacy (Leidner, Alavi & Kayworth, 2010). While leaving, he also ignored his personal assistant Derek, who was there with him on every trip. Now that Stefan is no longer the part of Modeen Gear. He should analyze his approach critically (Lasserre, 2017). As a CEO, he ignored his basic responsibilities. He didn’t follow his chairman’s advice to induct MDs by giving them a proper vision for company’s growth, rather he fired four MDs in last four years which is against the employee retention plan of a company.

In this regard, “investing in employees” also contribute to the success of the company but Stefan adopted the non-investment plan as he was not willing to allocate enough budget to business-related degrees like MBA (Hamel & Ruben, 2000). His ability of managing resources was not good, he just pursued his plans of entering US soil while neglecting the available resources they had. He paid the US $ 3M out of the limited resources of the company. Thus, putting the business at stake. The company was already in huge debt. The bank’s demand of paying back previous 6 loans could have driven Modeen gears out of business (Mentzer, 2001). This is a clear indication that his risk assessment was not up to the mark. His over ambition harmed him at the end. In comparison with Stefan, Fiona had a deep insight into company’s operations, she was very well aware of the repercussions of entering a new market in terms of finance.

Further, Fiona also knew about the customer trend as they were shifting to new performance cars. Fiona also had good interaction with other staff. That is why Operation directors were of the view to replace Stefan by Fiona. A CEO must act in calmly every situation. On his trip to the US, when he got to know the Jerry and Tyler were out of town and not responding to this calls, he got anxious, he thoughts his deals were lost (Lasserre, 2017). He was under an impression that after landing in the US, he will receive red carpet welcome from both Jerry and Tyler. Stefan overestimated about Tyler and Jerry in terms of acquiring their business.

After the New York conference, Tyler and Jerry actively discussed the merger of the companies. The word ‘Merger’ invoked Stefan’s ambitions. He thought he would easily acquire Jerry and Tyler Colorado firm without taking into account the fierce market competition in US specialist market. So, with this mindset, he set his foot on US soil, he thought it would be smooth sailing for him but in fact, it wasn’t the case (Leidner, Alavi & Kayworth, 2010). When he got connected with Jerry, he had a heated argument with him, Jerry conveyed to Stefan that he had no idea about the pace of US market and he was thinking to buy out Jerry.

Whereas, Stefan thought he would run the unit in US market as the company is doing in Italy in India. Also, the competitive analysis was not the focus of Stefan as he always disliked discussions about the new customer tastes, they were moving towards high-value cars, especially hybrid fuel technology. Modeen Gears was not following this current pattern (Osland, 2007). The company earned profit through its operations from 90’s to 2012 through the policy of direct control of distribution and supply of its products yet it needed improvement in terms of process management. Stefan being a CEO didn’t work on specific plans that could’ve given the company a competitive edge which resulted in his ouster.

Case Conclusion

In conclusion, for Stefan to work for other company, he should adopt early training method, develop an openness in communication, Work with a positive attitude, cooperate with staff, manage resources wisely through proper risk assessment, be well versed in competitive analysis, avoid being over-ambitious, pay attention to chairman words. All these practices are adopted by successful visionary business leaders around the globe. Actually, these are the global phenomena. Stefan had experience of many years, with this experience if he applies all these characteristics as parts of his strategy, he would become successful in the other company.


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