[photopress:Cessna_presentation_by_Curt_Freyhofer.jpg,full,alignright]Teams of MBA students gathered at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, for a contest that included devising an investment strategy for Cessna to build its business in China. Our illustration shows Curt Freyhofer of the University of Kansas making his team’s final presentation.
MBA students from five universities entered a contest where the assignment was to brainstorm ways to encourage China to loosen its control over private aviation airspace and expand its airport infrastructure. The students also had to devise an investment strategy for Cessna to build on its toehold of a business in China.
The teams had 24 hours to do it and then present their plans to Cessna executives and other judges. Such challenges and contests are now becoming a serious part of the MBA training process in the United Stats.
Unlike most MBA competitions, which are based on cases taken from the Harvard Business Review or other journals, the Cessna competition was ‘live’ — executives from the company posed an existing problem, answered students’ questions, and provided immediate feedback after their presentation.
China is home to about 300,000 millionaires, and Forbes’ 2006 list of the richest Chinese included a record 15 billionaires, up from 10 in 2005 and three in 2004. Even so, the country’s private aviation market is practically nonexistent. The military controls the airways and flight plans must be filed 48 hours in advance talking away one of private aviation’s advantages.
China operates only 106 ‘business accessible’ airports. Compare with, say, Pennsylvania which has 163 such airports. Pittsburgh boasts nearly as many private jets as all of China.
Cessna already markets some aircraft in China but nearly all of those planes go to the government or a training facility. Its one sale to a Chinese business executive will be a $4.5 million Citation jet.
The team from Washington took home the top prize. Part of the students’ plan: Expand Cessna sales to the government, establish lobbying groups in China, and ‘seed’ the market with more training aircraft. KU’s team won for best industry analysis.