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Amstel Engineering is a U.S. firm with 2,300 employees headquartered in San Francisco that does engineering consulting and large-scale construction projects around the world.13 Regional offices are strategically located in Singapore, Berlin, and Mexico City, in addition to its home office in California. Amstel considers itself to be a true global enterprise. Its principal markets are in North America and the countries of the European Union, although it also does considerable business in the Pacific Rim and considers this to be its strongest emerging market. Company officials also see the Middle East as a strong potential market that has yet to be tapped. Annual revenues have been disappointing over the past two years, except in the Asia-Pacific region. The company’s corporate culture is characterized by innovation and creativity in meeting client needs, a strong commitment to quality and customer service, an inclusive multicultural workplace that values employee diversity, and a heavy emphasis on incentive compensation that rewards high performers and eliminates less productive ones. Amstel values its strong reputation for providing high-quality engineering and construction services around the world. Amstel recently decided to restructure and revitalize its worldwide marketing efforts to gain a larger share of the global market for both engineering services and construction. To accomplish this, it plans to establish a new position of vice president for international marketing. The person hired will be responsible for introducing fresh ideas and new perspectives into the company and will lead a new initiative to generate additional business. There is currently no suitable internal candidate who is qualified to take on this role, so the company has decided to look outside to fill the position. The job carries a lucrative salary, fringe benefits, and stock options. The person hired will be based in San Francisco but will travel frequently. After a lengthy search, five finalists have been identified. It is now time to decide whom to hire. Although all five candidates have expressed serious interest in the position, in this highly competitive market the company cannot assume that its first choice will accept an offer, so it is necessary to rank all five candidates in order of preference. In this way, the company is assured of a reasonable likelihood of securing a new vice president to oversee international operations. The five candidates and their qualifications are as follows: John Thornton, thirty-six, divorced with one child. John is currently job hunting. His former job as head of marketing for a single-product high-tech firm ended when Bechtel, the engineering giant, bought out the company. John had been with his employer since its inception ten years ago. Having to leave his job was an irony for John since it was largely due to his marketing and product development success that Bechtel was interested in buying the company. You sense that he is a little bitter, and he is clear that the job offered him by Bechtel after the buyout was not worthy of his consideration. He wants a new challenge. John has an undergraduate degree in engineering and an M.B.A. from Stanford University. He lived in Europe for a time following graduation and has also traveled to Japan and China. He received a Fulbright scholarship five years ago to fund a two year research project on the marketing of high-tech equipment to Bangladesh. You have learned through some colleagues at another firm that John has a reputation for being somewhat aggressive and hard driving. He is described as a workaholic who has been known to work eighteen hours a day, six or even seven days a week. He seems to have little time for his personal life. In addition to his native English, John has a reasonable command of French, although he admits he hasn’t used it since his college days. Peter van de Groot, forty-four, single. Peter is a white South African and the great-grandson of Dutch immigrants to that country. He worked in a key position in the international marketing division of ABB, a Swiss multinational engineering firm, until it withdrew from South Africa eight months ago. While ABB wished to retain him and offered to move him from Cape Town to its European headquarters, Peter decided that it was time to look elsewhere. He had begun to feel somewhat deadended in his position and apparently sees the Amstel position as an opportunity to try out new territory. Like the other candidates for the position, Peter has a long list of accomplishments and is widely recognized as being outstanding in his field. People in your company who have had contacts with him say that Peter is creative, hardworking, and loyal. In addition, you have been told that Peter is a first-rate manager of people who is able to push his people to the highest levels of performance. However, some of his former colleagues describe him as being overly ambitious and sometimes condescending to subordinates. Peter has a Ph.D. in engineering from Sellenbosch University, a leading South African university, as well as an M.B.A. from Manchester in the United Kingdom. He speaks and reads English, Afrikaans, and Swahili and can converse a bit in Dutch. Peter’s male companion, Jan Smuts, would accompany Peter to San Francisco and would like Amstel’s assistance in finding suitable employment in the area. Peter has consistently been a vocal opponent of the old apartheid system in South Africa and remains a social activist. His long-standing support for native African rights has created some political enemies among some leading whites in that country, a principal reason for his interest in emigrating. Zur Shapira, forty, married with five children. Zur grew up in Israel, the son of Russian immigrants. After receiving his M.B.A. from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, he took his first job as a marketing manager for a small French manufacturing firm doing business in Israel. His success with this company led him to be hired away by a British high-tech start-up company in London. Again, he proved to be a successful manager, boosting the company’s market share significantly in two years. After five years in England, Zur was offered an opportunity to return to Israel to oversee the international marketing efforts of a new industrial park containing fourteen high-tech firms built around a small research center. He was responsible for coordinating the relationships between the research scientists and the companies, as well as managing the large marketing department. Once again, he showed himself to be a competent manager. You have learned through your contacts that Zur is highly respected and has extensive networks in the scientific and high-tech world. He is creative in his approach to marketing, often attempting risky strategies that many of his peers dismiss as being too threatening to the well-being of the firm. Zur, however, has generally succeeded in these endeavors. Zur is a deeply religious man who must leave work by noon on Friday. He will not work on Saturdays nor on any of his religion’s major or minor holidays—about eighteen each year. He will, however, work Sundays. In addition to his native Hebrew, he is fluent in English and speaks some French and Arabic. Jung Chang, fifty, widow with one adult child. Jung is an ethnic Chinese woman who was born and raised in Singapore. Her parents emigrated there from Shanghai in search of a better life. Jung began her teaching career while finishing her Ph.D. in engineering at Columbia University in New York and has published several scientific papers in her area. Her initial research focused on the entrepreneurial skills of small engineering firms like Amstel. Shortly after graduation, she went to work in the Singapore office of Fuji Heavy Industries and was responsible for securing new construction contracts in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. However, she continually felt that the company was unwilling to make full use of her skills because of her gender and left after ten years to return to teaching at Singapore’s Nanyang Technical University. She has remained there ever since. She continues to write and conduct research on various aspects of marketing in entrepreneurial firms, including engineering firms. In addition, she has maintained an active engineering consulting practice throughout Southeast Asia. You have learned through your office in Singapore that Jung’s only child is twenty-three years old and severely mentally and physically disabled. You sense that part of her interest in the job with Amstel is to provide sufficient income to guarantee his care should anything happen to her. Her son would go to San Francisco with her should she get the job, where he would need to be enrolled in special support programs. In addition to her fluency in Chinese and English, Jung has some familiarity with Japanese. Kenji Nakamura, forty-one, married with two children. Kenji is currently a vice president for international marketing for Komatsu, the chief rival of Caterpillar in the heavy equipment manufacturing industry. Kenji lives outside of Osaka in Japan’s Kansai region. Some colleagues have told you that he has an excellent reputation as an expert in international marketing and is widely respected in the industry, although he appears to be fairly quiet and shy in dealing with foreigners. The international market share of Komatsu has grown steadily since he joined the firm fifteen years ago. Kenji started work for Komatsu directly after graduation from Keio University with a degree in engineering and construction, and worked his way up the ranks. He does not have a graduate degree. You sense that Kenji has a keen sense of organizational politics and is skilled in working with people to resolve potential conflicts. Since the Japanese economy has remained relatively flat for the past several years, future prospects for senior Japanese managers are beginning to look bleak. Kenji has told you that he is interested in the long-term growth potential offered by Amstel Engineering. In addition to speaking Japanese and English, Kenji is able to carry on reasonable conversations in Chinese and has minimal working knowledge of German. His wife is currently a housewife and speaks only Japanese, although his children are fluent in English.
Based on your knowledge of both the company and the five applicants, please do the following:
1. Identify the key criteria that should be used to select among the five applicants for the position of vice president.
2. Based on your criteria, rank each of the five applicants in terms of their qualifications for the job. Provide a rationale for each of your rankings.