Learning outcomes Enhancing Your Company's Performance How do you keep your company and leadership on the cutting edge? In a marketplace teeming with disruptive threats, today's market leaders are adept at sustaining core businesses while simultaneously creating new growth. In this program, you will build the skills and mindset to lead breakthrough change and secure enduring competitive advantage. Equipped with a new set of frameworks, you'll be able to spot threats and opportunities earlier—and deal with them faster.
The first two months of Junior Year seemed to fly by for me, especially as a member of Boston University's space clubs. This year's expo was a great success for both clubs, with a lot of new members coming to all of the meetings since, where we drew up plans for a homebuilt telescope and discussed the s MOOSE emergency system designed to help astronauts bail out of spacecraft and safely return to Earth.
And then we got an e-mail from Harvard Business School's Aerospace and Aviation Club announcing that they would be having another conference about space as a business sector.
This conference had the same name-- Space: The Business Frontier --and location as its predecessor, but promised new speakers and new perspectives on space-related industries. So after an unusually-early Sunday wake-up, the members of BU SEDS and AIAA found ourselves assembled in the lobby of the Photonics Center, waiting for everyone to arrive before loading into cars owned by members to head to the business school in Allston.
It was a pleasant late-October morning, with the trees outside of the building decorated with brightly-colored leaves. We headed inside to enjoy some free breakfast before the conference officially started.
I chatted with some members of the HBS Aerospace and Aviation Club before catching sight of one of the participants in the opening keynote discussion, former astronaut Leroy Chiao.
Chiao for his excellent lightly-humorous article in the Wall Street Journal about a year before, describing the International Space Station in real-estate terms. He thanked me and said that it had been fun to write!
The BU groups filed into the auditorium with the other attendees to hear the keynote discussion--Dr.
Christensen first provided some background into the two former astronauts she would be speaking with--Dr. Chiao was a chemical engineer and Berkeley grad who had commanded the International Space Station in and now was the CEO of Diomics, a bioscience corporation. Christensen's questions focused on the two men's spaceflight experiences--what did they think were the easiest and hardest parts of the astronaut experience?
Chiao said that the intensive training was the hardest, and that while actually flying in space wasn't "easy", it was enjoyable enough to make everything that came before worthwhile.
As a group, what did NASA astronauts think of the possibility of many more people becoming space travelers? The two men said that initially, the prevailing attitude had been to be skeptical of the companies making those promises, but that now they had shown themselves to be qualified.
The current Association of Space Explorers only allows individuals who have orbited the Earth to be members, and there had been some question about admitting the space tourists who had flown to the space station for short trips.
Both men said they were in favor of space tourism and its potential to democratize spaceflight and help share this unique experience with the public. Chiao had trained in Russia alongside Anousheh Ansarithe first female space tourist, and been aboard the space station at the same time as her.
At first, he hadn't known what to expect from a space tourist, but she had quickly shown herself to be as professional and dedicated as the other astronauts and cosmonauts she was training with.
He repeated the previous sentiment--the space community needed entrepreneurs and communicators. From what they had seen in their personal experiences with space companies since leaving the astronaut corps, what were some typical characteristics of those involved in such companies?
Chiao said that most of the investors had some initial interest in space, and thought it was cool enough to make investments in space companies even though they might be risky--but a company still had to offer a clear return on investment if it wanted to attract enough investors to be successful.
The next discussion was a panel on the application of research done in space to the consumer market. The participants were Dr. Hastings said that there were really three things one could make money transporting between Earth and space--mass, energy, and information.
The cheapest to transport was information, and not coincidentally, satellite communications and imaging were two of the oldest and most profitable space-related industries.
Mass was more expensive--even though programs like CubeSat allowed people to design satellites and do experiments that interested them in space more cheaply, the launch cost was still high.
What about returning mass from space to Earth, as several asteroid-mining companies had recently proposed? Hastings said that the task would be technically difficult, and that the company would have to make sure that the materials they were harvesting were valuable enough to cover the cost of sending the spacecraft to the asteroid and back.
Of course, valuable materials are valuable because they're rare, at least on Earth, and a company might also run the risk of bringing back so much of a rare substance that its value was decreased. Similar to the dilemma faced by the discoverers of an island full of flawless diamonds in the classic children's novel The Twenty-One Balloons.Harvard Business Review, background notes, and other course materials.
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The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania today hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of a new SiriusXM satellite radio broadcast studio.
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