Martha McCaskey The Seleris Associates Industry Analysis Case Study

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Last Updated: 17 Aug 2022
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For the past 18 months Martha McCaskey has been an exemplary performer with high integrity and been assigned as a project leader to a crucial high profile project named Silicon 6. Upon successful completion of Silicon 6, McCaskey has been promised a promotion to group manager. McCaskey is being pressured by senior management to finish the project and have an action plan to present to the client. Now she has some options to weigh in order to complete the project. What McCaskey must decide is where she draws the line on compromising her values in order to complete Silicon 6.

She will have to decide what constitutes proprietary information or is she engaging in “gentleman’s industrial espionage” McCaskey has also realized she might have to pay someone off to finish her project in order to attain her promised promotion. She felt she has always maintained a high degree of integrity until now. There were some warning flags McCaskey should have noticed. The focus this paper is to examine specific reasons underlying McCaskey’s situation, what the warning flags were and what tactics she should employ concerning her involvement in the Silicon 6 project and her future with Seleris.

Martha McCaskey Seleris Associates Industry Analysis Division Case Study Martha McCaskey has been assigned as the Project Leader of the Silicon 6 Project with Seleris Associates Industry Analysis Division (IAD). She is facing some real tough decisions that can be career threatening and possibly have legal ramifications. Silicon 6 has become a crucial project for IAD. Silicon 6 will account for 20% of IAD’s revenues. If successful for IAD’s client then more lucrative projects would follow. This should have been a warning sign to McCaskey, a high profile project given to a new hire would not happen.

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McCaskey has been promised a promotion to Group Manager with a substantial increase in pay if she performs well. This was a warning sign. How could McCaskey be promoted to Group Manager? There were only 2 groups who was going to go? Was it just “lip-service” to entice her further to obtain the needed information on Silicon 6? Selersis’s client is a semiconductor manufacturer based in California. The client has retained IAD to identify cost structure and manufacturing processes for a new chip being manufactured by a competitor. Selersis’s client has offered to double the consulting fees if the required information could be obtained.

McCaskey has been tasked by her management to formulate an action plan to present to senior management of the client and IAD. McCaskey is struggling with how she must decide what constitutes proprietary information and what is public knowledge. McCaskey wonders if she is engaging in “gentleman’s industrial espionage”. She has always maintained a high degree of integrity, until now. McCaskey now has some different approaches for finishing the Silicon 6 project to ponder. The Events Leading Up To Martha’s Situation Martha McCaskey has the right pedigree; Electrical Engineering (EE) degree from CalTech, and Harvard MBA.

Shortly after finishing her MBA she became an associate with Seleris Associates Industry Analysis Division. This division specializes in clients in the computer component manufacturing industry. McCaskey’s offer was generous plus she received a good reference from a former CalTech associate who was employed there. The division was divided into 2 units. One unit was under Group Manager Bud Hackert called the “Old Guard” which worked mainly on independent projects and the other unit under Group Manger Bill Davies comprised of newer associates or “New Guard” where McCaskey was assigned.

The New Guard group worked predominately on team projects. McCaskey’s first project received high praise from Tom Malone the division’s vice president stating her performance was the best the division had ever seen. The second project was very challenging. Under heavy pressure McCaskey was successful. After presenting successfully to the client, the president of IAD Ty Richardson asked McCaskey what her delay was on this project in writing the clients report. McCaskey was so outraged she finished the report in 10 days. Malone established her report as the new benchmark for IAD projects.

This behavior by Malone should have been a warning sign as well. McCaskey had been with IAD a short time and already her work was a bench mark? There is no easier way to gain loyalty then by praise. McCaskey felt Richardson and Malone disapproved of her handling of the project. It was during this period that Malone suggested McCaskey ask advice of 2 members of the Hackerts’ group; Dan Randall and Chuck Kaufmann concerning obtaining sources of information. Hackert’s group was involved in gathering detailed information about competitors.

This McCaskey quickly ascertained that Kaufmann and Randall were the real producers of this group. Before she was done on her current project McCaskey was asked by Richardson to talk with the rest of the members of Davies Old Guard group on the Silicon 6 Project. Randall was cold and unapproachable and Kaufmann was unavailable. McCaskey did work later with Kaufmann on some team projects and she found him to be approachable and fun to work with. The Atmosphere At IAD Several senior associates had left the firm in the last few months. McCaskey over the months has discovered was that IAD had some severe ethics issues.

The president Ty Richardson is very sharp as well as a convincing salesperson with plenty of charm and charisma. He was very driven, mostly by money. The defacto Chief Operating Officer (COO) Tom Malone was the type of leader who was another great talker and salesman who once stated to Kauffman that he did not care about the turnover at IAD because he could just put an ad in the paper and hire all the staff he needed. Richardson and Malone stated to the staff about being part of the management team. However both would go on a client visit without involving the staff. The staff felt left out and perceived themselves as being non-contributors.

McCaskey had been given the freedom by Richardson to perform her work as she wished and her work was also recognized by Richardson. Her bonus that year was $25,000 while the other associates bonuses were much smaller. This should have been a warning sign to McCaskey, special attention by senior management, to include a large bonus in excess of co-workers share. McCaskey And Silicon 6 McCaskey had been asked to work on Silicon 6 because of her EE degree and coursework on chip design. Richardson had stated the project was behind schedule and her expertise would be valuable.

McCaskey was informed she would be working with Chuck Kauffman. Kaufmann was hard working but was taken advantage of by both Richardson and Malone. He was paid less than any other associate and felt the company needed his expertise to run the business. Kaufmann could not step back and see his situation. When trying to obtain information from industry sources McCaskey would identify herself as a representative of a trade journal. McCaskey thought that was a little more above board than visiting a target company and pretending to be interviewing for a job, as a consulting friend of hers does.

Richardson spends more time with Randall, McCaskey and Kaufmann often making impromptu visits to see McCaskey and Kaufmann. McCaskey was still struggling with obtaining credible information on the target company. Seleris’ client had also placed a stipulation that the target company was not to be contacted, to avoid the appearance of price fixing. Malone had queried McCaskey on whether she had been able to contact any former employees of the target company. On other projects she had found former employees of target companies a valuable source of information.

Kaufmann had confided in McCaskey he had paid a former employee of a target company a $5,000 consulting fee for spreadsheets and a business plan for a new product line. He mentioned Randall had done this on a regular basis on Seleris projects. IAD had no written formal policies concerning solicitation guidelines and rules of engagement working for a client. McCaskey confirmed with a coworker that members of Hackerts’ Old Guard group routinely paid off ex employees of target companies to obtain sensitive and proprietary information for Seleris’ clients and the Group Manager Hackert condoned and encouraged this behavior.

Desperate for information McCaskey considered using former employees of the target company to complete Silicon 6. When she learned of the bribes McCaskey should have known what Seleris was all about, ethics not being an attribute. This was another warning sign she chose to ignore. Enter Phil Devon McCaskey’s best lead came via some random events. During her research she came across a professor at a small east coast engineering school who actively consulted with European semiconductor manufacturers. After contacting him McCaskey discovered he could not provide her with any information.

Malone then suggested McCaskey fly out and interview him in person indicating he might have some “gossip” on the new chip. The face to face interview provided no new information that McCaskey could use. The professor suggested she contact Phil Devon a consultant in southern California who had been involved in the design and start up of one of the European chip manufacturers. The lead for Devon came about under such obscure circumstances. Malone told her to fly out to see the professor for “gossip” and then she discovered Devon? Did he know of Devon and intended to use McCaskey as a patsy? This was another set of warning signs for McCaskey.

McCaskey set up an interview with Devon and discovered he was a former employee of the target company at the vice president level. This was large warning sign for McCaskey. You should never approach an executive of a target company, they are not ignorant. Your true intentions will be figured out in no time. McCaskey felt uneasy with Devon from the start. Devon was almost too forthcoming with information. McCaskey felt certain that Devon could provide her with all the information she needed to complete Silicon 6. She felt he might be leading her on in order to find out who she was working for.

This should have been a red flag warning for McCaskey. Devon was way too anxious to give up information. What were his motives? Just a nice guy who wanted to help for the right price? A disgruntled ex-employee? Was he working for the target company? Was he part of a sting operation ? She did not listen to her “gut” on this one. McCaskey was an intelligent person she should have gone with what she felt (Welch Jack: Straight From The Gut) When McCaskey debriefed Malone she informed him of her meeting with Devon and how she felt Devon could have provided her with all the information she required had she just asked.

She then informed Malone she had come away empty handed with the needed information. She also informed him about how uneasy she felt about Devon’s demeanor to the point that he might call the authorities or inform the target company’s plant Silicon 6 of her interest if she pressed him for the target company’s information. Malone told her not to contact Devon anymore and just go through her client presentation with him. Malone informed McCaskey that Seleris would present the data as though it represented the actual Silicon 6 plant. When McCaskey objected Malone informed her no one would notice when they presented.

Another warning sign, Malone was going to lie to the client. What McCaskey thought was to be a dry-run of her presentation turned out to be held in front of the client’s senior plant management. The plant managers stopped her within 15 minutes of her presentation stating it provided no new information. In a closed door session with Malone and McCaskey the client plant management stated their displeasure in Seleris’s handling of the Silicon 6 project stating how much business they had given Seleris and how they hope to continue the trend. However, given what they had just witnessed they had doubts.

Malone then brought up how Seleris had just made contact with an former employee of the Silicon 6 plant who could provide them all the information required given the proper “incentives” were provided. The attitude with the client senior management immediately changed. The client senior management doubled the consulting fee for IAD stating the additional funds could be used for “incentives”. The client stated they did not care how IAD obtained the information as long as they got it. Malone was delighted in the turn of events and how delighted Richardson would be.

When Malone briefed Hackert, he suggested that the consulting fee paid to Devon should be $7,000 not the usual $4,000 or whatever would make it worthwhile. Malone then informed McCaskey to think about how she handle Devon and not rule out the idea of using Kaufmann to meet with Devon. McCaskey realized she was in the middle of paying Devon off to complete Silicon 6 and receive her promised promotion. This was a huge warning sign. Malone was shooting from the hip and he succeeded. Plus he had the perfect patsy; McCaskey or Kaufmann. Strategies Martha McCaskey Could Have Taken

One strategy McCaskey could have taken was to stand up and define herself as a person and an employee (Jack Welch Video: Define Yourself or Others Will). If you allow people to think that you condone certain behavior, as in McCaskey stating to Malone “You’re Amazing! ” after the presentation she and Malone made to the Silicon 6 client. She seemed to admire him for his dishonesty. When she learned that Seleris was bribing former employees of target companies she further failed to define herself in not speaking up for ethics and distancing herself form the situation.

Her co-workers could only assume she approved of such behavior. Being new McCaskey desired to excel and seek approval of her management; however bribery to succeed is not the way to differentiate or advance yourself. Differentiation is a way to manage your people and your business. It’s about getting the best players on your team in order to have everyone pull together and win. (Jack Welch; Winning; Chapter 3) You do not win by being dishonest. When McCaskey discovered her management was basically unethical she needed to have a face to face meeting with them immediately.

McCaskey was not in a situation of good boss vs. bad boss (Welch Podcast: Good Boss vs. Bad Boss) with someone who was just a jerk or a bully, she was dealing with 2 people who were blatantly dishonest and unethical who were condoning and encouraging bribery and industrial espionage. They were crossing a line that could land them or McCaskey or Kaufmann in jail. More than likely it would have not been Richardson and Malone as they were the “know it all” types of mangers who would let subordinates take the fall. (Welch Podcast: Bosses Who Get It All Wrong).

At this point McCaskey has realized both of her managers were dishonest. You cannot trust dishonest people. Trust is the fiber of good peer to peer relationships, once gone it’s hard to win back. Trust is like the stock market you can lose it overnight (Fiener Chapter 3 Law of Trust). McCaskey should have confronted both Richardson and Malone both with their behavior and asked to be moved off of the project. Better to be moved off or moved out than go to jail. McCaskey did not give herself a lot of options to improve her or change her situation as she went along with the status quo.

She chose not to stand up and do her job the right way. She more than likely is going to be cannon fodder for her management. (Feiner Chapter 8 Law of Conscientious Objector). A culture change needed to take place at Seleris from top to bottom and bottom to top. However, the persons you had running the company Richardson and Malone were not about to inspire any change that would interfere with their personal cash flow. The main problem with Richardson and Malone is that while both were bright and charismatic, but they were the wrong type of leaders, they were not inspiring the right attributes. Feiner Chapter 2). They were not taking control of the situation for the good of the company or employees, they were doing for themselves. The burning bridge technique might have worked (Fiener Chapter 9 The Law of the Burning Bridge). For change to end it right the process must start right. Malone and Richardson were not about to upset their empire by admitting they were wrong and begin a drastic change process. It is not in their moral fiber to do so. There was no way for McCaskey to have changed their behavior. A painful end is waiting for them. Three Emails McCaskey Should Write

Ty: After some thought and soul searching I feel I should be removed from the Silicon 6 Project. I realize I have not produced well on this project and I sincerely regret my less than stellar performance. I would like to stay on with Seleris IAD and perhaps work on less high profile projects in order to give myself a much needed break. I feel very stressed and overwhelmed at this point. I would like to meet face to face with you in your office to personally discuss my options with you. I would also like to take a 2 week vacation to recover from the last few months as well.

I notice your calendar is clear form 1300-1400 would that be convenient for you? Tom: Due to the tremendous stress I have been under I will be taking a couple of weeks vacation to recover. I would like to remove myself form the project. I will let you decide who should meet with Phil Devon, as I know you know the right person to speak with Devon. I have cleared this with Ty Richardson and he agrees that I need some time off. I will be moving on to some less high profile projects. Head of Human Resources: I have enjoyed my tenure Seleris IAD where I feel I have grown personally and professionally.

I feel I have worked with some of the industry’s best consultants. It is a decision that I have thought about for a while and I feel it is the best option for me at this point. I will be terminating my employment within 2 weeks from receipt of this email. A certified letter confirming the same will be coming to you forthwith. Conclusion Martha McCaskey has painted herself into a corner. She can pay Devon off take her promotion and hope for the best with her future. Her situation is this; she is considering bribery and has engaged in industrial espionage. McCaskey should run not walk away from this situation.

She should run; self terminate her employment and cut all ties with her co-workers. She should have seen the warning flags and listened to her “gut”. As soon as possible McCaskey should quit Seleris IAD and retain an attorney. She needs to provide him or her with complete details of her dealings on Silicon 6. McCaskey should act on the advice of her legal counsel to protect herself if Seleris IAD chooses to come after her if the dealings with Devon take a turn for the worse. Call it what you want; incentive, consulting fee, gift, it’s still bribery and illegal. I wonder what Jack Welch would have done?

References
Welch, Jack with Suzy, (2005). Winning, Harper Collins.
Welch, Jack with John A. Byrne. (2001). Jack: Straight From The Gut, Warner Books Inc. Feiner, Michael, (2005) The Feiner Points of Leadership. Warner Business Books. Welch, J., Welch, S. (2009). Define Yourself or Others Will Retrieved from The Welch Way Website. http://www.welchway.com/

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Martha McCaskey The Seleris Associates Industry Analysis Case Study. (2017, May 07). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/martha-mccaskey-seleris-associates-industry-analysis-case-study/

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