How Did SBA Students Contribute to the Best Company Purpose Statement Ever?

By Terence Lau

Many companies spend a lot of money with consultants to come up with a "purpose statement" about what they do.  GE Aviation, one of the largest divisions within GE and the maker of jet engines for the most popular passenger airplanes in the world, took a different approach and asked their employees to think about their purpose.  They eventually settled on "We Invent the Future of Flight, We Lift People Up and We Bring Them Home Safely."  In the last few months, SBA students have been able to think deeply about this pupose statement, thanks to a multi-faceted consulting project featuring the company's plant in Suzhou, China. 

A core component of the SBA's strategic plan is experiential learning, allowing our students to learn by doing.  Last year, the SBA set out to connect this component with another key point of distinction - international learning.  We teamed with Ford Motor Company and sponsored a case competition asking students to help the company solve the problem of how to meet the demand for electric and low-emission vehicles in China.  This year, the SBA signed on with GE Aviation as its client.  Starting in October, groups of SBA students began regular meetings with senior leadership at the GE Aviation plant in Suzhou, China, to understand the challenge posed: "How can GE Aviation capture more of the explosive growth in the aviation market in China?"  Working with faculty members Paul Sweeney, Vince Lewis, and Terence Lau, along with MBA alum Greg Hyland (GE Global Ops), the students set out to study the company and make recommendations to management.  Students in some classes visited the plant in China during the SBA Intercession program in January 2016, while others worked on the project as part of their INB 450 Capstone in International Business course.  Their work culiminated in final presentations at the Stander Symposium, where five teams received cash prizes totaling $10,000 for their efforts.  For more information about the consulting project, click here.  For more on SBA's international opportunities for students, click here.

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