answer the case Qs in small paragraph 4-5 pages (double space)

Case: Caroline Regis at Excel SystemsPlease read the enclosed case and answer the following questions in approximately 4-5 pages. You must answer each and every question clearly, and draw on theories/concepts discussed in this course.Do not forget to mention any assumptions you need to make while preparing your answers.Required format:? 1” margin all around? double spacing? size 12 times new roman font? APA formatting style for references? Response length: 4-5 pages excluding references and any appendicesQuestions:Why has Regis been so successful in her career to date? In your answer be sure to include a discussion of: (a) person – organization and person – job fit for Regis at Vardian from 2008 – 2010, (b) person – organization and person – job fit for Regis at Excel from 2010 – 2012, (c) person – organization and person – job fit for Regis at Excel from 2012 till the merger with Gemini, (d) Regis’ managerial skills throughout her career, and (e) mentoring provided by Anderson.Why did Regis respond in the manner she did to the outsourcing proposal? Is her management style inconsistent with the past? First put yourself in her situation, intellectually and emotionally. Then, think about the current situation at Excel after the merger with Gemini in early 2014. Is Regis just being change-resistant? Or, is she trying to protect her territory? Do you support Regis’ ultimatum at the end of the case?Could Regis have done anything differently? If yes, identify specific incidents and behaviors that transpired, and be specific in how she could have handled these situations differently. You should also think about all of the other stakeholders in this case.What should Regis do now? In your answer you should think of the post-merger situation and all of the stakeholders involved. Considering Regis’ phenomenal record so far, does she need to change her skills/attitudes/behaviors for her future career growth?Describe 2-3 personal take-aways from this case (related to concepts from this course)?? What have you learnt about the outcomes of various types of social ties/networks?? Regis threw an ultimatum at her boss Spanner. How can he resolve this conflict?What have you learnt from this situation?? Do female managers face challenges different from their male counterparts?Thank you..
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MARCH 9, 2015
ANTHONY J. MAYO
MICHAEL J. ROBERTS
Caroline Regis at Excel Systems
It was Friday, June 13, 2014, and it felt like an unlucky day for Caroline Regis. As she turned off the
lights in her office and headed to the company’s parking lot, she wondered if this was her final day at
Excel Systems. Regis, vice president of manufacturing, was embroiled in a controversy with some of
her colleagues and superiors at Excel Systems, which had recently acquired a rival company, Gemini
Systems. Gemini’s CEO, Roger Dreanan, had become CEO at Excel. Dreanan wanted Excel to adopt
Gemini’s approach of outsourcing manufacturing because Gemini’s vice president for supply chain
management, Margaret Ogilvie, had used this model to good effect there.
Regis thought, “How could my area of responsibility just disappear, evaporate? Basically, they want
to eliminate manufacturing as a function and completely outsource all our production. We’ve built out
our manufacturing capability over the past few years, and we add a lot of value with this function:
shorter shipping times to customers, better integration with engineering. It is just crazy.”
Regis decided she needed to confront Steve Spanner, COO at Excel. She said to herself, “Either they
will let me do my job or I should just leave.”
Background: Excel Industries
Ron Whitney was a high-profile serial entrepreneur who founded a web company that he had sold
for several million dollars in 2007. He then focused on what he saw as the “next-generation melding of
web and hardware.” He founded Excel in 2010 and then received several rounds of venture funding
from some of the premier VC firms on the East Coast. The company’s board included several highprofile venture capitalists. Whitney built Excel on the idea that custom hardware could track certain
dimensions of individual behavior, automatically upload these data to the web, and use custom
analytics to create useful information for consumers. Moreover, the web applications could integrate
data from other users, creating a social dimension for these applications. Whitney described his vision:
“Imagine a scale that uploads your weight, analyzes weight trends, and compares it to all of your
friends. That is a much better environment for creating an incentive to diet and lose weight, if that is
what you are trying to do. Or, the ankle bracelet that monitors your running, logs the data, tracks your
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
HBS Senior Lecturer Anthony J. Mayo and former Senior Lecturer Michael J. Roberts prepared this case solely as a basis for class discussion and
not as an endorsement, a source of primary data, or an illustration of effective or ineffective management. Although based on real events and
despite occasional references to actual companies, this case is fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons or entities is coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685,
write Harvard Business Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. This publication may not be digitized,
photocopied, or otherwise reproduced, posted, or transmitted, without the permission of Harvard Business School.
This document is authorized for use only by Jing Yang in Leadership in Knowledge-Intensive Organizations -Spring 2018 taught by Smriti Anand, Illinois Institute of Technology from January
2018 to May 2018.
For the exclusive use of J. Yang, 2018.
915-515 | Caroline Regis at Excel Systems
progress, and compares you to your fellow runners. The connected web will bring a whole new
dimension to many of these applications.”
Excel’s first product, the Integra, used a variety of fitness software tools and social media
capabilities. It was launched in November 2013 to positive reviews. Sales were, however, significantly
behind the numbers budgeted in the company’s financial plan. Competitors had introduced several
other, similar products at the same time, and no offering in this space was yet emerging as the standard.
Around the time that Excel introduced the Integra, there was considerable speculation that the
company was readying for an initial public offering. Then, in February 2014, Excel announced that it
had acquired Gemini.
The Merger
Gemini was a smaller player in a narrower space: simple bracelets worn to track running
performance. However, owing to Dreanan’s knack for publicity, as well as some effective marketing
and promotion, Gemini had a far more widely recognized name. Its simpler product was performing
better in the marketplace.
The companies did not publicly disclose the terms of the deal, but Gemini shareholders received
shares in Excel, the surviving company. Whitney became Chairman of the merged firm, while Dreanan
became CEO. Publicly, Whitney endorsed the deal as enabling Excel to continue its growth trajectory,
thereby allowing him to focus on engineering and product development, which was his first love.
Within Excel, many believed that Whitney was more ambivalent. Regis offered her view: “No one likes
to give up their baby. Whitney is the classic stereotype of a passionate, mercurial, emotional, and
visionary entrepreneur.”
Within Excel, the rationale for the merger was explained as follows: Excel would quickly brand its
broader product line and superior technology with Gemini’s well-known name to accelerate its market
penetration. It was also suspected that Dreanan was a more viable CEO for a public company. Gemini
had a reputation as a very professional, well-organized business, while Excel was regarded as a classic
tech start-up, with strong engineering and weaker administration and operations. After several rounds
of venture capital funding, Whitney was no longer in control of the company’s board, so his ability to
block the deal was limited.
Background: Caroline Regis
Regis had attended a prestigious liberal arts college in New England. Following graduation, she
headed to New York City to work for a prominent investment banking firm and returned to New
England after three years to get her MBA at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. She explained
her thoughts upon graduation:
I’d done the typical thing, and felt like I was pretty successful, but I saw where that trajectory
led. People went back to investment banking or leveraged their financial background into a job
in private equity or hedge funds. That life was not for me. While I was in investment banking, I
always thought our clients were doing more interesting work than I was. It was tempting to go
back, get the big check and pay off my business school loans, but I worried I’d get sucked in. I
wanted to work in tech, and wanted an operating role, and that was already a difficult argument
to make. Any more time in the financial world would brand me irretrievably as a finance person.
2
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2018 to May 2018.
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Caroline Regis at Excel Systems | 915-515
Regis was dogged in her pursuit of a job and received an offer from a large software firm, Vardian,
which sold primarily to firms in the financial industry. She noted, “It was hard selling myself to tech
companies, and even harder to do so to the start-ups that I was really interested in. These small
companies don’t have the bandwidth to train someone with my background. Vardian had a training
program and some entry-level jobs that I could fit. Because it sold to the financial sector, my
background was a plus, which was different from most of the start-ups I talked to, where the first
question they asked was whether you could code.”
Regis observed, “Joel Anderson hired me. He was a fabulous boss, and he spent a lot of time
teaching me about the underlying technology and the way these engineering-driven companies tended
to work. He became a mentor and a friend.”
Anderson commented, “Caroline is as smart and aggressive a person as I have worked with. She is
a voracious learner and wants to master everything she does. She’s very analytical, and once she
reaches a point of view, has tremendous confidence in it. She will really fight for her viewpoint, and I
admire her for it. She is widely respected for her analytical and communications skills.”
Vardian Career
Regis was at Vardian from August 2008 to July 2010. Within that period, she was promoted three
times: from an entry-level role as an analyst for sales support, to a regional director of sales support,
and then to head of the installation and support function (one of several groups that reported to
Anderson in his role as head of engineering and implementation). Regis described the company this
way: “Vardian was a young company, but it had found the right product-market fit with its product.
We were in execution mode: find new customers, sell the product, and implement. The stock price was
on an upward trajectory, the executive team was stable, and the senior team worked well together. It
was a focused organization.”
Vardian’s software required a good deal of custom configuration for each client, even though it was
a cloud-based product. By 2010, Regis was supervising a group of 35 and was one layer below the tier
of vice president. In each capacity, she continued working for Anderson, who was glad to challenge
and develop her skills. One colleague complimented her work: “Caroline is perceived as fair and very
level-headed who is driven by the facts and not by the emotions around a decision”; others described
her as “not a person who plays politics.”
In March 2010, Anderson was recruited to join Excel Systems by its chief operating officer, Steve
Spanner, an old industry friend. Anderson explained, “Steve and I had always liked each other. I’d
been with Vardian for a long time, and I was ready for a new challenge. Plus, the options you can get
at a start-up have a lot more upside than what you can get at a more mature public company. It’s
riskier, and I gave up some salary and bonus, but I was at a point in my career where I could afford to
take a risk.”
Regis was sad to see Anderson go, but he told her, “If things at Excel progress as I hope, we’ll have
plenty of need for people like you. I’ll reach out once I get the lay of the land.” Indeed, they talked or
had coffee several times between March and July 2010, when Anderson made Regis an offer to come
join him as manager of support. She quickly accepted his offer.
It had been a great two years at Vardian, for Regis. Beyond her promotions, the options she received
when Vardian went public were now worth a considerable amount. Her friends and classmates from
business school sought her out for advice and counsel on breaking into the “tech” world.
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2018 to May 2018.
For the exclusive use of J. Yang, 2018.
915-515 | Caroline Regis at Excel Systems
Regis at Excel Systems
Excel was considerably smaller than Vardian, and it had fewer senior management roles. Regis took
what “looked like a demotion” to get hired there and to work for Anderson. She was excited to be at a
company that was doing both hardware and software:
My role overseeing installation and support at Vardian was great training for the software
business. To see the issues that arise when you try to implement a piece of software, and serve a
real customer need, gives you the insight to design a well-functioning product in the first place.
I was excited to control both hardware and software, and to apply these skills to a product like
Excel’s, that would meld both elements. In this business, when you implement a piece of
software and it doesn’t work, the hardware people point their finger at the software, and vice
versa. By doing both, you have no place to hide.
Her first role at Excel was manager of support, a two-person group that was developing the enduser support materials and processes that would be used once Excel’s product was released two years
hence. Over the next year, she was promoted twice, first to director of user experience and then to
senior director of hardware/software interface:
It’s like they say: Be careful what you wish for. I ended up in the hot seat, sitting at the nexus
of Excel’s efforts on both hardware and software. It was my job both to get the software people
to tone down some of their expectations, at least for our first product, and to get the hardware
engineers to build out and refine the product’s capabilities. It gave me a great view of the
complex tradeoffs that exist as you try to manage both pieces of a product.
Regis also found Excel was a good environment in which to work: “Whitney had this very expansive
vision for the connected home, and everyone had bought into it. There was plenty of money from the
VCs, a really solid team, and everyone was pulling together. Whitney had a reputation as being
mercurial, but he and I worked well together. I respected his dedication to his ideas, and he valued my
tenaciousness and relative calm under pressure.”
In late 2012, Excel underwent a significant course correction. Whitney had originally envisioned a
system that linked the user/wearer of one of Excel’s devices to the systems in her home, providing a
“smart home” environment. It was clear, however, that the smart home was evolving in a different
direction. Excel abruptly changed course, de-linking the device from the home and moving to a product
that directly captured data about the user, and then processed and displayed it in a web-enabled
format. The Integra, Excel’s first product, was an attempt to create a wrist watch-like product that
would capture both activity-related information (miles walked or run, speed) and combine it with
certain health statistics (e.g., heart rate, weight). A software companion would analyze this data and
produce reports that tracked progress and suggested targets. A “social” component would allow the
user to share her data with other Integra users, and the software would perform comparisons and
motivate group members.
With this fundamental shift in product concept, many departments within Excel changed
considerably. Manufacturing, which was focused on a large array of home sensors and devices, was
restructured to focus on the wearable bracelet. Layoffs ensued, and the vice president of manufacturing
resigned. A senior manager was then promoted to that slot. In early 2013, Regis was asked to move to
the manufacturing group as assistant vice president for manufacturing. She explained the role:
Manufacturing was in disarray after we changed course. A lot of people left, including the
former VP, and we had millions invested in the old platform that we were trying to leverage into
4
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This document is authorized for use only by Jing Yang in Leadership in Knowledge-Intensive Organizations -Spring 2018 taught by Smriti Anand, Illinois Institute of Technology from January
2018 to May 2018.
For the exclusive use of J. Yang, 2018.
Caroline Regis at Excel Systems | 915-515
the new product. This had been a tough sell with the board, and Whitney was having a harder
time keeping the VCs funding this new direction for the company. I had to salvage as much as I
could from the former product vision. On top of that, the old operation was pretty loose. I had
to develop all sorts of systems, from costing to inventory to logistics. I kept my head down and
tried not to get distracted. I went to a few meetings with the sales and marketing folks, who felt
whipsawed between their old message to the marketplace and what they were trying to sell now.
Luckily, I knew the problems I had to fix.
Other colleagues at Excel were glad to see her in the role. One manager observed, “Caroline has
systematized and brought order to every function she has worked in here. People have great respect
for her. They know she doesn’t play politics and calls it like she sees it. She is very independent. She is
always looking out for the company’s best interests, and is not afraid to stand up to management or
her peers. She also fights for her own people, which makes them very loyal to her.” When Excel
launched its first product in November 2013 many in the organization gave credit to Regis.
In early 2014, the vice president of manufacturing resigned, and Regis was promoted to that role.
Regis noted, “He was unable to get along with the software people; everything was a battle. They
finally forced him out.” Regis’s reputation as a fair mediator of issues between the hardware and
software pieces of the organization made her a popular choice.
Anderson commented, “It is remarkable for a person without an engineering background to become
head of manufacturing at a tech company. Caroline attacks and analyzes problems and persists until
she has won people over. The only advice I continue to give her is to try to put herself in other people’s
shoes. Sometimes, because she is so convinced she is right (and she usually is), she sometimes doesn’t
appreciate the issues someone else may be facing.”
While the product was generally well reviewed upon its release, sales were slower than expected.
Some rival products were considered easier to use. Others managed to generate “more buzz.” Gemini’s
product was in the latter category, and the merger with Gemini was announced three months after
Excel had introduced its product.
Merger with Gemini: The Early Days
There was much speculation within both companies regarding how the newly combined operations
would function. Dreanan had a reputation as a no-nonsense, process-oriented, financially astute
executive who ran a highly professional organization. Some criticized him for being bureaucratic.
Others felt he brought a healthy discipline to traditionally “loose” tech organizations. Excel, on the
other hand, was seen as a creative, engineering-driven, entrepreneurial company, and Whitney had a
reputation as a technically astute, charismatic leader who left a lot of the details to others.
Prior to the deal closing, in late March 2014, neither company said much about how their activities
would be integrated. Following the deal’s closing, most of Gemini’s Boston-based administrative staff
was let go, and functions like HR, communications, accounting, and finance moved to Excel’s
headquarters in New York. Some of Gemini’s senior staff moved to New York and assumed senior
roles, although Excel’s vice president for administration and its CFO remained in place. Regis was
naturally distraught when some of her colleagues were let go. She noted, “It is sad to see these people,
some of who had been here a long time, arbitrarily let go. People are disappointed that Whitney isn’t
fighting harder for his people. On the other hand, I have met and like some of the Gemini folks who’ve
moved into our offices. They seem very professional, and they are also not happy about their colleagues
who were let go. I guess it is just part of the process.”
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This document is authorized for use only by Jing Yang in Leadership in Knowledge-Intensive Organizations -Spring 2018 taught by Smriti Anand, Illinois Institute of Technology from January
2018 to May 2018.
For the exclusive use of J. Yang, 2018.
915-515 | Caroline Regis at Excel S …
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