Mo Abudu has joined a long list of CEOs, including Warren Buffet and Elon Musk, whose strategies and decisions have been examined as case studies at Harvard Business School.
This academic year, all first-year MBA students will be required to complete a case study on EbonyLife Media as part of their curriculum. The students will learn about the evolution of EbonyLife’s business model, its growth and challenges, as well as which path CEO Mo Abudu should take.
The classes began on November 18, 2021, at the HBS campus in Boston, Massachusetts, with over 1,000 Harvard MBA students and faculty participating.
This means that all first-year students at Harvard Business School will read a case about an African company led by a Nigerian woman. Things we love to see!
For the two-year MBA program, students will read approximately 500 case studies, including the EbonyLife case study. Almost half of these cases involve global organizations.
Mo Abudu has been invited to observe the case being taught and share her insights with the students during three class sessions scheduled throughout the day. She will listen to students discuss the case for the first hour, then students will have the opportunity to ask her questions during the last 20-25 minutes of each class.
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The interaction will be broadcast to other classes that are taking place at the same time. Later that day, she will have additional opportunities to interact with students and faculty to provide additional insight into her approach to EbonyLife’s strategic growth.
She said, “At first, I was surprised by Harvard’s interest in us, however, I can now see how a diverse faculty and student body could benefit from looking at how companies in Africa and other parts of the world deal with challenges unique to their environment. I’m looking forward to the discussions and the students’ perspectives.”
The HBS case study is to be presented in two parts – A and B. Case study A chronicles the journey of EbonyLife Media from inception to December 2020, while case study B provides a summary of what has occurred between January and October 2021.
Having read case study A, the students will have to consider the choices chronicled in the HBS case study abstract below and give their analysis. Through interaction with Mo Abudu and the reading of case study B, they will be able to find out what has happened since the case was written and how appropriate their evaluation and recommendations have been.
By December 2020, after movement restrictions were lifted in Nigeria, Mo Abudu planned to relaunch EbonyLife Place but at the same time had other concerns. Chief among them was whether to continue with EbonyLife’s online platform EbonyLife On (EL ON) and if so, what changes would be required? She also considered alternatives: building a sustainable business with international partners as a means of becoming Africa’ foremost production company or continuing to operate EL ON while pursuing such international partnerships.
After more than twenty years in the media industry, she knew that making these kinds of changes could be challenging. Having built a group of assets including a resort and creative academy, the stakes were high. Livelihoods and the future of an entire industry could be at risk. She wondered which option would be best.
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Harvard Business School has been ranked as one of the world’s top business schools for over a century, pioneering the development of the case method of teaching, based on a similar approach at Harvard Law School. In 2017, Harvard Business School opened the Africa Research Centre (ARC) in Johannesburg, South Africa with a subsequent office in Lagos, Nigeria.
The ARC is one of eight research centres that support Harvard Business School in developing international case studies such as this one on EbonyLife. HBS cases document real events in companies and when they are taught in the classroom, students assume the role of managers with business dilemmas, which they need to analyse and provide possible solutions to.
This case study method has been adopted by dozens of business schools around the world, allowing students to learn from each other and to consider diverse perspectives before making decisions.
Congratulations Mo Abudu and to Ebonylife Media!