EMTM Team Helps Motorola Look to the Future

Corporate Projects Tap EMTM Students' Multidisciplinary Perspectives
and Skills

When a company like Motorola Inc. says its vision is to achieve seamless mobility within a decade, it needs a tangible plan. Moving that vision beyond rhetoric into potential products is the task before five students participating in a new elective "Corporate Application Project" offered by Penn's Executive Master's in Technology Management program.

While forecasting technology trends 10 years from now might sound daunting, participants in the Corporate Application Project with Motorola are using the interdisciplinary perspective and fundamental business and technology analysis techniques that are the hallmarks of Penn's EMTM program. A team of five EMTM students, all poised to graduate in May, are conducting a wide-ranging scenario analysis for Motorola's Science Advisory Board this spring with guidance from EMTM faculty. Science Advisory Board Associates represent the top 1% of technology leaders in Motorola, and are responsible for setting overall technical direction of the company.

"Our objectives are to identify the areas of radical innovation 10-plus years from today, and the opportunities for Motorola to invest and profit in these areas," says Mark Pecen, EMTM '05, who is also a Motorola Science Advisory Board Associate and heads up the student team. "For me, the benefits are two-fold: I get to learn a lot more about the problems of my own company and industry; and I get to contribute something that's extremely timely and meaningful to my company as a technical leader."

The EMTM team's project for Motorola involves interviewing more than 30 global opinion leaders and synthesizing economic data that further defines their insights. The team will use scenario planning techniques to address Motorola's challenges, guided by faculty mentor Scott Snyder, Penn Engineering adjunct associate professor and guest lecturer for the Wharton School. Snyder is also the president and COO of Decision Strategies International, Inc., a management consulting firm that specializes in helping clients cope with and profit from uncertainty. Snyder will guide the EMTM team as it prioritizes more than 50 global social, technological, environmental, economic, and political trends that could shape seamless mobility in future years. The end result will be a summary of potential business opportunities — with strategies for investment and for the management of risks associated with uncertainty about the future.

Serving as faculty coordinator for the Corporate Application Project elective is Jeffrey A. Babin, Penn lecturer in engineering entrepreneurship and managing director of Antiphony Partners, LLC, a strategic consulting firm that helps technology companies create sustainable growth and value. He notes that corporations have asked EMTM to offer this hands-on consulting practicum to help them address technically-robust business challenges.

"Companies value the third-party perspective of really bright people from diverse backgrounds who offer a different outlook on their business and technology issues," Babin says, adding that participating students are matched on teams that represent the complementary skills and diverse backgrounds of EMTM students (mid-level to senior-level scientists, engineers and managers).

Joining Mark Pecen on the Motorola project are: Shawna Brinkerhoff, Senior VP and Principal for Strategy & Operations at Silver Star Communications, LLC, who earlier built and launched wireless networks (voice & data) in two markets for Nextel Communications; Jim Combs, Vice President of SEI Global Services, a new division of SEI Investments Company that serves financial intermediaries with operations and investment processing capabilities; Sam Kim, R&D Project Manager for Hewlett-Packard Company in Vancouver, Washington, whose work with HP printers involves improving product development processes, time to market, customer experience and quality; and Mike Naimoli, a healthcare and life sciences consultant who at GlaxoSmithKline led a team responsible for the overall technology transfer of scientific methodologies from R&D to full-scale manufacturing.

For the students, says Babin, "There's a value in presenting content that might be outside your comfort zone as well as in gaining contact with people you would never encounter in your daily life." Another group of five EMTM students is tackling a similarly complex task for a global firm in the financial services industry.

EMTM Corporate Application Project participants bring clarity to Motorola's vision of the future. (From left, Mark Pecen, Sam Kim, Shawna Brinkerhoff, Mike Naimoli, Jim Combs)

“Companies value the third-party perspective of really bright people from diverse backgrounds who offer a different outlook on their business and technology issues. ”

Jeffrey A. Babin
Penn Lecturer in Engineering Entrepreneurship and Managing Director of Antiphony Partners, LLC

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