Beyond the Business Case Study: Talking with the CEO

Cross Continent Students at the Taj Mahal
A post-residency trip to the Taj Mahal

Before I debrief our recent Cross Continent MBA (CCMBA) residency in New Delhi, our business case study of a local company, and the critical steps we took towards building a global business competence, I want to take a second to reflect on the past year with my classmates.

Together, we’ve grown and have experienced the challenges of a full-time MBA program along with the day to day responsibilities of life that include full-time jobs, friends, family, engagements and newborns. Reflect on what we have accomplished, my CCMBA ’15 family. We have not only built upon our key business strengths in disciplines across strategy, marketing, finance, and statistical decisions & modeling, but have done so while integrating cultural, global market dynamics, and geopolitical deep-dives across three major global regions thus far: China, Latin America, and India.

So here is to a great first half, and a pat on the back to my fellow B-school warriors…#ccmba15family…trending…

The Business Landscape in India

India was absolutely amazing and is a country with immeasurable cultural and religious diversity. As we learned in our Global Markets & Institutions class, and from my fellow blogger Jennifer Petoskey, India is transitioning towards more inclusive institutions, but while that occurs, remnants of extractive influences continue to affect the business environment today. This presents unique challenges to companies in India, especially when faced with universal business issues such as product pricing and negotiations, supply chain and operational complexities, top-line vs. bottom-line pressures, and maximizing capital efficiencies.

I can’t think of a better way to navigate this landscape than to immerse ourselves in a local business case study of Eko—a mobile banking start-up in India—as part of our core marketing class taught by Professor Carl Mela. Speaking of which, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to review a case study from the financial services industry—an area where my work background gave me the “home court” advantage.

The 3 C’s (Customers, Competitors and Company) and 4 P’s (Pricing, Promotion, Place and Product) provided the framework that guided our analysis of the Eko business case. Additionally, the opportunity to follow up directly with CEO Abhishek Sinha when he came to our class, and to engage in a thoughtful discussion of his strategic decision making was truly unique.

Talking and Strategizing with the CEO

Eko CEO Abhishek Sinha talks to a Duke Fuqa Cross Continent MBA Marketing class
Eko CEO Abhishek Sinha talks to our class about the case study on his business

As we analyzed the case, we learned that one of the key tenets to a healthy modern financial system is the widespread availability and adoption of basic banking services in a country. In India, something as simple as a checking or savings account had been unavailable to more than three-quarters of the country, especially those in traditionally lower income, rural areas. Abhishek Sinha (and his co-founder, Abhinav Sinha) realized this need and sought to apply his extensive telecom experience to create an innovative solution, tailored to both the demographic and the business landscape in India. Thus, Eko was born.

The Lessons Come Together

Being in this program, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to lean on the experiences of my peers. Even though at first I felt like I had a firm grasp of the case study on paper, especially following a discussion with the CEO, it was not until I debated the case with my classmates from across the world that I had gained the full spectrum of global business perspectives. It was the combination of these rich experiences shared by my peers, the top-down business case analysis of Eko (shout out to the 3 C’s and 4 P’s), and a discussion with the CEO that brought it all together for me.

It’s only fitting that when I asked my mentor what she remembered and valued most across her management career, she said that it wasn’t the accomplishments or accolades on paper, but it was the talented people she learned from and worked with along the way.

Looking forward to seeing the CCMBA ’15 family on our next residency in Istanbul!

Steven Hu

Cross Continent MBA, Class of 2015

I'm from the Washington, D.C., area and work finance. I love to hike and plan to squeeze in a few trips while traveling to or from our class residencies.

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