Team Dyesol

April 21, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- It didn't take long for Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) students Levi Brooker, Saba Kazemi, Steve Goodwillie, Steve Macanlis and Piotr Ozdzynski to form their team in the Global Access Program (GAP). These teammates had worked together on previous projects, got along well and knew they had a wide range of skills. Through the GAP project bidding process, they were chosen to work with an Australian firm called Dyesol that holds a number of solar energy patents and was interested in entering the U.S. energy production market.

GAP is a unique educational program that matches a team of students with an international technology company to develop a comprehensive business strategy. It gives students a chance to apply what they've learned in the first two years of their MBA program, and gives firms valuable data and analysis that might not otherwise be affordable - or available.

Team Dyesol started quickly. Steve Macanlis and Saba Kazemi flew to Australia to meet Dyesol senior executives and learn more about the products. Team members attended trade shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. This allowed them to meet prospective customers and competitors. In the course of their primary research, they spoke with over 200 industry experts.

The program requires a lot of primary and secondary research, according to Levi Brooker. "We spent 10-20 hours a week on this in addition to doing our normal jobs," he said. "Most people wind up missing at least a week of work to travel and attend meetings. It helps to have a flexible job."

After reviewing their data, the team decided that the timing was not right for Dyesol to enter the U.S. market. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy telling our client they shouldn't do this," says Brooker, "but we were able to back it up with data from our interviews."

In October, Team Dyesol made a mid-point presentation to their advisor Peter Cowen, UCLA Anderson faculty, GAP staff and several former GAP students. They received helpful input and realized they needed to provide Dyesol with data and insight to develop an alternative plan. "We did a lot of research on the U.S. real estate market and made projections to show where there might be opportunities for solar energy production in the future," said Brooker.

In December, the team met frequently to sharpen their final presentation. The opening presenter would be Steve Goodwillie who had background as a speaker and entertainer. His teammates prepared slides and organized data so it could be easily referenced.

Team Dyesol was scheduled early on the day of GAP final presentations. In the audience was their client, Dyesol Founder and Managing Director Sylvia Tulloch along with a panel of solar energy experts. Goodwillie started the presentation and made the team's primary recommendation. Each member of the team had an opportunity to present background research. The presentation prompted questions and comments from the panel, followed by applause from the audience.

"As opposed to just taking a test in a normal class," said Booker, "I feel like we gave a hard product to somebody who can use it. It was a good feeling. I think the most important thing that Dyesol got out of this was publicity because, in going to the trade shows, we found that people who should have known about the company - didn't. We talked to over 200 industry experts and now they know about Dyesol whether they become customers or not."

Brooker feels that the GAP program distinguishes UCLA Anderson's FEMBA Program from other schools. "It can be a life-changing experience because it exposes you to all aspects of business," he said. "One member of our team, who is an engineer, was very uncomfortable in the beginning of the project. By the end, he could talk like a salesman."

Media Relations