The Big Day
What would you do if, not even five minutes into your 1.5 hour presentation at a client’s site, a Senior Vice President would storm into the room and put the presentation on hold? What if he would ask you to go directly to the recommendations and then would spend an hour challenging the soundness of your analysis and findings? Would you be ready?
This was exactly what happened to our team when we were presenting the final recommendations to our client. Our team spent a whole semester preparing for this presentation; after all, the work with a real company on a real-life CSR problem made up a major part of our MBA292 course, and this presentation was the culmination of our efforts. Numerous group meetings, tons of class notes, countless emails, hours of interviews and days of research – it all led to this one presentation.
We were confident about our findings: in our eyes, the company was on the right track with their CSR strategy and was well positioned to become an industry-wide leader in the area. However, we also concluded that in this particular industry there were too many other players betting on their CSR cards to advance ahead of competition. Thus, it was essential for our client to take a much closer look at how well their CSR projects were structured, how well they were communicated to the stakeholders, and whether they were differentiated enough to be effective strategy tools.
It turned out that the Senior VP did not see it exactly the same way – and he was not afraid to challenge us. We could not rely on our deck anymore; our statistics, stories and examples that we had prepared lost their relevance. However, we had done our homework. The fact that we had just spent a whole semester discussing strategic CSR in MBA292 class allowed us to answer the difficult questions, to point the flaws in opposing arguments, and to prove the validity of our conclusions.
All in all, this presentation was a great (even though somewhat stressful) experience. Talking to the rest of the audience after presentation, we got overwhelmingly positive reactions; they found our findings and recommendations very useful, and the discussions that we had with their Senior VP allowed them more insight into his thinking. While our presentation did not go quite as planned, we were able to effectively convey our message – which means that when all is said and done, the presentation was a success.
Now, it will be very interesting to continue following the company through the summer and see where they will take our recommendations from here…