For a long time, I have been a management consultant wannabe. Some time ago, I applied to a consulting firm, and requested to complete a case study. I was not selected after that stage.

Even though I am not going to explore that further. I would like to know how my work can be improved. Any advice?

(I have no background in management, strategy ..., I just did by common sense)

A global manufacturer of silicon faces a fall in its profits to the electronics industry which purchases mostly in bulk and a rise in its profits to the beauty care sector.

(Q) What are the issues you should investigate to address the profit challenge?

As the client is a global manufacturer, the case can be considered from a macro view. In other words, the factors related to a small region or a single country with low consumption can be neglected. Even though the purchases form electronics industry are mostly in bulk, the possibility of phasing problem is minimal due to the size of the client. Also, the profit changes differently among industries, so it is believed that the cost of the client is not the main cause.

With the above considerations, the client’s profit drop to the electronic industry may be due to a fall in demand of silicon. The following should be investigated to address the profit challenge:
o Technology advancement reducing the use of silicon in electronics device production
o Availability of silicon substitute for electronics use
o Drop in demand of electronics products in consumer market (unlikely)

There may also be some factors related to supply:
o Increase in number of silicon manufacturers and silicon supplies in the market
o Silicon price cut by competitors

Regarding the profit to beauty industry, the growth may be attributed to the factors below:
o Discover of new silicon applications in beauty industry
o Improvement in public acceptance of silicon beauty products
o Change in population structure, e.g. rise in population of working women who makeup frequently
o Increase in range of male grooming products
o Rise in income of target group, especially in emerging markets

(Q) Based on the limited information above, what are the possible solutions you would recommend?

In order to arrest the fall in electronic sector, the client is recommended to provide more and better services, e.g. better product QA/QC and aftersale services etc, to their customers. Not only this can differentiate themselves from competitors and enhance customer relationships, but can also collect market insights which offer ideas for R&D use. Wider electronic applications of silicon should be explored to expand the market.

For the beauty sector, their customers should be interviewed to identity the most preferred product categories and see how we can grow with the uptrend. Because the overall industry is expanding, new silicon beauty products should also be explored through discussion with manufacturers and investment in R&D. New beauty product manufacturers will also be expected so extra efforts should be put on capturing new customers.

wendii's picture
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how long did you have to answer the question?

I'd say (based on limited knowledge!) that your answer is fair in as far as it goes, but there are a number of other strategies which could be considered (thinking of Porter's generic strategies as a starting point) which may or may not be more beneficial.


Mark's picture
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Look, this is a case question. Good case answers can take as long as 10 minutes, and require a clear knowledge of how to answer them and knowledge of the strategies and issues involved. This is a normal first round question, and it is so important that business schools teach a specific approach. It involves significant give and take with the recruiter, asking the right questions, and then the recruiter's answers lead to more questions and a final recommendation.

Almost no one could handle this question without significant preparation, so I'm not surprised that a common sense approach wouldn't have fared well.

Finally, if you're not pursuing these opportunities, this ends up being a hypothetical question.


tonys's picture

Hi Wendii, I was given 24 hrs to finish. May I know what is Porter's generic stratgey? I will now do a google search

Hi Mark, I never been to a b'school, but plan to do a master in marketing in 2008. What a pity that I failed in the selection process

wendii's picture
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hi Tony,

there's explanation here:

And.. I failed every interview I ever had for management consultancy too :-( ... but I love my job now :-)


tonys's picture

Glad to hear that you love your work so much.

I am in a process of finding my "dream" job (if exists).

My current one is good, but not so good enough. My boss is a nice guy, consumer goods is the industry i like. But the company invests nothing in training or employee development. My boss is nice but does not delegate enough or challenging responsibility to me. Tried to talk to him once, he appreciated, but not much change.

Those well established MNCs are mainly looking for recent graduate. So I am going to do a Master next year, will try to get 1st honour, and see if I could open the door. I love some of them because they invest money and time on employees, and encourage early responsibility.

I'm 27 now. Have to hurry up. If I cannot become a young manager before 29, my career path will be tougher.

wendii's picture
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from the grand old age of 35, ambition is great, but if you don't make your targets, it won't be any different.

I was very ill from 23 to 30ish. I always feel like I'm 10 years behind my peers, but you know what... I'm doing great for where I am and who I am.

Learn what you can from the situation now, take what it has to offer, don't expect to be given anything, and move on when you've sucked the orange dry.

And be surprised what comes along and makes you love your life!

(who will be taking her own advice today!)

tonys's picture

"and makes you love your life!" I really have to learn about that. Sometimes, I found my "think big" approach harms my life.

You know, I am always "looking for new challenge", in my 5 years work exp, I have served 4 different companies, one of them I stayed only 6 months.

I realise my problem. I really benefit from your post. Tks Wendii.

KASmithy's picture


how long did you have to answer the question?

I'd say (based on limited knowledge!) that your answer is fair in as far as it goes, but there are a number of other strategies which could be considered (thinking of Porter's generic strategies as a starting point) which may or may not be more beneficial.


Wendii gave a really useful resource for Porter's Generic Strategies. I know that it is a little late for you to get additional sources on the topic, but I feel that it's worth it for those who may be trying to develop an effective marketing strategy.

Anyway, for whatever it's worth, here is an [url=]excellent additional online resource.[/url]