Innovator Article

Consulting Center Benefits Brocade
Bay Area MBA Team Delivers Risk Assessment Toolkit

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Looking for fresh ideas and perspectives on enterprise risk management, specifically around analyzing high-impact, low-probability risks, a global leader in computer networking equipment turned to the MBA Consulting Center for innovative recommendations.

A team of six Bay Area Working Professional MBA students took on the challenge, working closely with top-level executives at Silicon Valley–based Brocade Communications Systems to develop a new theoretical methodology for the firm’s treasury group to explore prioritization and risk mitigation investment. Brocade is a recognized leader and forward-thinker in risk management; however, this issue lies in unchartered territory because no industry standards exist.

Drawing on their combined expertise in consulting, engineering and project management, the MBA team spent three months creating a decision-tree model, a scorecard rating model to assess risk and mitigation strategies, and a financial analysis model to show the impact of the strategies.

Probable risks the team considered included supply chain disruptions from political instability in developing countries, dissolution of partnerships and factory shutdowns due to natural disasters. That meant brainstorming impacts across all units of the company: manufacturing, supply chain, operations, finance, engineering and marketing.

“Our diverse expertise came together to create a strong final product,” said student Siddhartha Karkare, a semiconductor design verification engineer at Netlogic Microsystems.

Team lead Danny Wong said it was a prime opportunity “to work on a project that had real impact on the company’s operations. It was hands-on education in the theory and practice of risk management.” Student Chandramohan Nayak, a principal support engineer at Oracle, agreed: “Brocade’s scientific approach to making critical decisions got my brain thinking in challenging new ways.”

At Brocade’s San Jose, Calif., headquarters in March, Bay Area Working Professional MBA student Shilpi Suri presents her team’s recommendations to the IT networking company’s C-level executives. “A classroom teaches theory and tools for doing business,” said Suri, who works as a consultant for Capgemini U.S. “This project gave us an opportunity to put all our MBA education and business skills into practice.”

Brocade CEO Mike Klayko welcomes the MBA Consulting Center team, which presented to a panel of senior executives. “Brainstorming and discussing different ways of approaching the issues with the student team was extremely valuable,” said GSM alumnus Brandon Hillstead ’09, Brocade’s global enterprise risk management coordinator. “They provided us with a new method of analyzing high-impact, low-probability risks and incorporating that into the corporate planning process.”

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