This case study is about the Sloan Woman in Management club where the co-presidents namely; Tarini, Rachel, and Leah are faced with stressful situations where they are forced to make critical decisions relating to the organization. The Sloan Women in Management club was established during the 1980`s, and its primary objective was to create a supportive and inviting society for the MIT Sloan female students. In addition, the club assisted the women to advance their careers and provide them with more opportunities in businesses. To cater for the needs of the women and meet the set goals, the SWIM held different year-long occasions such as networking,professional expansion training, speaker sequences, mentorship platforms, and community exchange programs. Additionally, three events were held by Sloan Women club where students were provided with an opportunity to interact with senior businesswomen. The number of individuals who were members of the organization grew in 2013 with approximately, 550 fans on Facebook, 270 members in LinkedIn, 640 followers on Twitter, and 300 alumni. The conference that was held turned out to be the most significant event in the history of the organization regardless of the inception that had occurred two years earlier. Consequently, the club gained diverse interest and support from the administration owing to the high profile in the year 2012. The team involved in the sponsorship was led by Rachel who began planning for the 2013 conference during the late June.
In 2013, the three co-presidents of SWIM made strategies to build on the success that was realized the previous year and immediately after they were elected, they started planning for a conference that was to be held in the current year. Notably, the three leaders aimed at maintaining the level they had gained during the previous year`s conference. The three co-presidents appointed a director whose role was to watch over the contents of the conference alongside selecting the speaker, the theme, and motivating a large team to implement the conference following the visions of the year. The directors later on finalized on the list of the keynote speakers and consequently began scheduling meetings involving the speakers for the panel and the Sloan administration.
One essential thing about being a good leader is the capability to deliberately and logically make the best decisions during a worst case situation. After 11 consecutive months of planning, the Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) club`s two conference directors and the three co-presidents were faced with a difficult situation. The day of the conference, in attendance were panelists and keynote speakers who were to hold discussion relating to different topics about women and business. The third club`s conference was to be held during the winter snowstorm, which was projected to affect the Boston area. Apparently, the approaching storm was an ironic turn for the conference owing to the challenges they had previously undergone. Also, to add to the traversing weather challenge, there was an additional problem on who had the final authority during the process of making decisions. In essence, the team underwent many setbacks during the planning of the events. Finding speakers proved difficult and in some situations went up to several months. The uncertainty encountered in getting speakers led to decrease in the sales of tickets as well as marketing of the conference. Also, the team faced last-minute slags as a result of the cancellation of the conference by the keynote speakers one month to the event.
Despite the numerous challenges faced by the club, all the pieces in the puzzle during the planning of the conference came together, and the managers succeeded in vending 500 tickets and hit their target during the fundraising. However, the prediction about the snowstorm that was heading towards Boston forced the leaders to decide if the conference would proceed as it was planned, adjusted, or would be canceled altogether. Apparently, the administration in MIT had not decided whether they would close their doors or not. Unfortunately, if the administration shut the door, no event would take place. The decision facing the leaders in the conference was not an easy one because of the uncertainty in the weather. Even though most of the speakers were on their way to Boston, the attendees were hoping that the conference would be postponed. The leaders in the conference began contemplating about the ramification of their final verdicts. They speculated what would happen in case the conference was not called off, and what would happen just in case the predicted snowstorm was not true. The leaders wondered what they would give back in return for the tickets in case the event was canceled. As the team mumbled through different options, they reminded the attendants about the theme that was revolving around the brink of failure.
During the planning period, the members of the committee had visualized different possible scenarios relating to the conference. During some of the events, there was low attendance, at times the food was delivered late, and other times the speakers forgot about their main points that they were to address. In contrast, at times the rooms were fully packed with the audience giving thunderous applause. There was the one major factor that was challenging, and that was about the unexpected incident involving the monstrous snowstorm. The directors and the co-presidents, who were very frustrated, held a meeting with Marco to weigh the available options. The weather reports indicated that the snowstorm would hit Boston at around 12 in the afternoon whereas other people claimed that it would affect the area during Fridays only. Merrill and Janet gathered information about the speakers who were to attend the conference and confirmed that all the speakers were to participate in the event and were not scared by the snowstorm.
Several factors made the canceling of the conference impossible such as the catering company had already factored in perishable goods that were to be used during the event. Furthermore, the company claimed that it was too late for the leaders to cancel the event. Also, the closure of MIT would lead to tripling of the rental fees from one day to daily rentals throughout the weekend. Lea, who was one of the co-presidents, did a calculation and quickly realized that in case the event was canceled before the arrival of the vendors, there would be a significant increase in their total cost. Apparently, it was unclear the fraction of the finance that would be recovered in case the event was canceled. Ostensibly, the most weather forecasts had predicted that the snowfall would begin at 12.00 on a Friday afternoon and would not continue until the next day in the evening. The members of the club discussed regarding the different options they had. They factored in how the speakers would react if their time was limited considering that they had devoted themselves to attending the conference despite the bad weather conditions.
In regards to the weather prediction concerning the snowstorm, Merrill championed an idea that the conference would be held on half-a-day considering that the snowfall would begin at 12 midday. Several concerns were however raised as to whether or not the attendees would be given a chance to choose the speaker of their choice? Would it be feasible for the speakers to perform one after the other since space was limited? Would the attendees show up if they realized the conference would take three hours only? And would the high profile be discouraged by the low audience turnout? Consequently, the co-president and the co-directors were left with only three alternatives; whether to hold the conferment until 12.00 noon thus saving on the operational costs, holding a half a day conference, or waiting until Thursday evening for them to make a final decision when the weather forecasts would be accurate. Postponing the event was not an option for them, and they did not seem to come up with a date that would suit everyone. Marco Esquandolas, who was a partial observer, told the leaders of the conference that they ought to know what is best for their organization. He said that it would be devastating if they canceled the event. They were torn in between different decisions, but one thing they were so sure about was that the decision they would settle on would have a long-term effect on the club; something they were committed to for a long duration.
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