Action Learning Projects

Asia School of Business - in collaboration with MIT Sloan School of Management

Action Learning Projects at ASB

Action Learning is simply the process of learning by doing and doing by learning and true to the MIT motto of Mens and Manus (Mind and Hand). Our students, supported by an extraordinary commitment of our Corporate Partners, spend 4 weeks on-site employing both their minds, by using all the knowledge delivered by the MIT Sloan faculty in the classroom, and their hands, by working with our host partners to deliver a high value and impact final project.

As part of our mission to become a global knowledge and learning center infused with regional expertise, insights and perspectives on Asian and emerging market economies, ASB invites companies in the region to host Action Learning Projects for our global MBA students supported by academic and industry advisors.

Action Learning Symposium 

This journey culminated with the Action Learning Symposium where all the host companies attended the students’ final presentations and poster sessions.

To quote the CEO of GreenTech,

The students surprised us with findings that were promising, unexpected and exciting.”

The Prudential team noted that:

Today’s presentation reaffirms our decision to partner ASB on this AL journey. Although it took a lot of convincing on our part in the initial stage, everyone saw the tremendous value that the AL project provided.”

Action Learning Host Partners 2017

ASB - Operational Readiness (Business Models)

ASB has to prepare itself to operate its new campus from 2019 onwards.

The challenge was to identify various options for revenue generation / cost optimization.

The team created an overall campus business plan (minus F&B and residential facilities).  One of the key areas examined was “outsourcing” vis-à-vis “in-house” management of various service facilities.  They created a flexible financial model that considers capacity utilization and inflation rates.

ASB - Operational Readiness (F&B, Residences)

ASB has to prepare itself to operate its new campus from 2019 onwards.

The challenge was to identify various options and to decide on what will make ASB unique.

The team benchmarked operations against certain well-known institutions in Asia, interacted with a number of vendors, and also surveyed current student body to obtain “wish-lists”.

The team created a comprehensive business model (business, operational, and finance plan) for F&B and Residential facilities. The actionable recommendations covered F&B within the proposed Campus.  For the residential areas, the team looked at housekeeping, support services (vending machines, laundry etc.)

Asian Development Bank, Manila - Feasibility of Creating a New Investment Portfolio

ADB’s mission is to help its developing member countries reduce poverty and improve the quality of life. However, ADB has almost always funded Governments/Government-run programs, and not private sector initiatives.

The challenge was to examine the feasibility of creating a new portfolio of investment in Social Enterprises (SE) and youth engagement in Asia.

The recommendations included identifying factors that can help improve the SE ecosystem to make it investment-ready via educational promotion and support, accreditation system for SE, and innovative financing options.  Using this model, the team validated the Philippines Development plan for 2017-2021, and also suggested an experiment for ADB to work with an ASEAN government (with an outlay of USD400 million) to make the SE ecosystem of their country investment ready.

Digi, Kuala Lumpur - Launching Digital-HR

Digi’s Digital HR mobile application was initially developed for internal use.  Now, Digi would like to offer their Digital HR solution to the market.

The team worked on identifying the most viable market segment and developed a comprehensive marketing strategy to build an initial and viable customer base of 50,000 users in 18 months.  To develop the go-to-market strategy, the team had to understand better the changing needs of HR practitioners, identify a specific target segment (by gathering data from a diverse set of companies in Malaysia) and suggest positioning and pricing models.

BJC Group, Thailand - Improve Promotion Execution

BJC acquired Big C group which operates a chain of mini and hyper markets in Thailand.  Recent economic stagnation and adoption of e-commerce has resulted in declining sales and market share.

The team worked with Big C to improve promotion execution by optimizing internal processes, analyzing industry trends, and employing industry best practices.

The team recommended to create an in-house analytic team to analyze big data, focus promotion strategy to avoid overlaps, simplify promotional mix, and invest more in a loyalty program to increase retention of core customers.

BJC Group, Thailand - Regional Distribution Expansion Plan

BJC acquired Big C group which operates a chain of mini and hyper markets in Thailand.  Mini Big C network is expanding rapidly (especially in the north and south of Thailand) but distribution strategies have not been optimized for this growth.

The team studied the existing operational networks and identified opportunities such as utilizing staggered delivery windows, aligning delivery days along same route, and opening additional hubs in North-East and South-Thailand respectively to save about 20% annually (approximately USD1.6 million) in 2018.

Esquel, Vietnam - Automation and Up-Skilling

Esquel is one of the largest leading garment manufacturers for global brands.  Esquel is in the process of developing an automation and up-skilling initiative to improve productivity, quality and reduce worker training time.

The team improved this initiative by examining the design, justification and implementation stages.  The team ran an Employee Engagement Survey to find factors that would improve acceptance among employees and their willingness to contribute to the ideation process. In addition, they standardized the documentation requirement to define, measure and analyze project cost.  They also developed a framework to help measure the quality impact of each initiative.

J&J, Thailand - Vision Care

J&J Thailand Vision Care Division believes that it is possible to increase sales of Acuvue, their high-premium contact lenses product range.

The AL Team explored the factors influencing sales conversion in the case of high-premium (luxury) products and identified store location and in-store experience as the key drivers.

Recommendations included several measures to enhance in-store experience and also to improve the performance of the Eye Care Professionals through better training and well-defined sales process.  For stores at premium locations, the suggestions included creating a premium branding corner within each of these stores and “bundling” to attract high value customers to increase sales.

P&G, Myanmar - Ariel

Ariel is a premium laundry detergent that owns a 10% market share in Myanmar. However, sales growth in recent years have been stagnant despite heavy spending on advertising.

The team looked at key questions: who buys Ariel, why do they use Ariel, and where to focus their resources.

The proposed solution was to target the school uniform market, use of digital media (70% of Yangon population active on Facebook) to reach out to women, and introduce an Ariel color variant to counter the loss of customers because of the “bleach perception”.  The team also recommended a couple of marketing campaign ideas. These measures are projected to help total sales increase by over 100% in the next 18 months.

P&G, Myanmar - Pantene

Pantene shampoo has witnessed spectacular growth in Myanmar in its first 5 years, but the growth has now plateaued and the competition is intensifying.

The team’s challenge was to develop a sustainable brand strategy for Pantene as it moves from a young to an established brand.

The primary hair care consumer perception study by the team led to the recommendation to focus on soft hair as the most desirable attribute. The team also did segmentation and identified “glamorous” and “professional” as high-potential targets and suggested certain marketing ideas and campaigns. These measures were projected to lead to a 100% increase in sales of Pantene in the next 18 months.

P&G, Myanmar - Olay

The sales of Olay, the leading global skincare brand in P&G portfolio, has been stagnant in Myanmar during the past one year.

The challenge was to revitalize the brand and create a “Right to Win” strategy for Olay.

The “Right-to-Win” strategy involves determining the best category (whitening) and best positioning (targeting evolving, young professional women).  The team’s recommendation was to focus on two of Olay products: Natural White Day Cream and Natural White Night Cream, while also targeting evolving and young professional women.  This should lead to a projected 34% increase in sales for these two products.

Action Learning Host Partners 2016

AirAsia - Scaling Safely

After AirAsia implemented a new Ramp schedule (4×4 to 4×2) our team was asked to evaluate new Ramp schedule as to how it affects:

–Labor Efficiency


–Culture & Change Management

ACM Boeing - Cost-Reducing Business Strategy

Aerospace Composites Malaysia Sdn Bhd (ACM) is a composite component manufacturer and part of The Boeing Company’s supply chain based in Kedah, Malaysia.

The AL project concerned ACM’s Partnering for Success (PfS) initiative, which is their business strategy to reduce costs in their own business and across their supply chain.

The ASB AL Team delivered the following two items:

Deliverable 1: A tool which estimates the savings of potential PfS initiatives, to enable strategic selection of projects (PfS Tool).

Deliverable 2: An investigation into the key success factors of PfS and an analysis of ACM’s engagement strategy.

EasyUni - Delivering Student Value

Incorporated in 2008 and based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, EasyUni is Asia’s leading platform for students and parents to search for, compare, and apply to universities and colleges around the world. The company generates revenue via delivering student inquiries and admissions to institutions, as well as advertising packages and consulting services.

The goal for our students was to optimize the value provided by EasyUni to students to increase the lead conversion rate and the successful placement rate. This was done in two ways: by ensuring that the business model is aligned with the desired user behavior, and by enhancing the core service offerings based on student preferences.

Fashion Valet - Preparing for Exponential Growth

Fashion Valet is Asia’s favorite online boutique specializing in local designer/brand fashion for women.

The goal of this project was to identify internal and external causes of FV’s supply issue (stock shortages) and propose sustainable long term solutions.

GreenTech - Charge EV

GreenTech through ChargEV is installing 300 charging stations utilizing funds provided by the government. ChargEV’s next challenge is how to remain sustainable after the funds have been exhausted. The AL team was assigned to create a sustainable business plan for ChargEV to ensure that the deployment of charging stations will not be affected by funds deficiency.

J&J Baby - Project StockFlex: Reducing Consignment Loss

Addressing Declining Relevance and Retention of Johnson’s Baby Malaysia
The objective of the ASB AL team was to review current Johnson’s Baby business challenges & identify new gaps/opportunities though Research, Surveys & Interviews (external & internal).

Johnson and Johnson’s end-to-end medical device consignment process has an inventory loss. Our team was assigned to build an approval and decision-making process and tool; define end-to-end roles and responsibilities; develop a technology that provides end-to-end monitoring and a workflow system.

Maybank - Crowdfunding Platform

Towards a Sustainable Maybank HEART Crowdfunding Platform

Maybank Heart is a new crowdsourcing platform provided by Maybank that allows donors to connect with specific NGOs and make a simple donation with 1 click from the Maybank2u platform. The ASB AL team was assigned to create an on boarding process for the new NGO’s, create an assessment matrix for campaigns and create a template for a new campaign with NASAM #BeTheOtherHalf.

Prudential - Enhancing Customer Engagement

The ASB AL team provided a proposed framework for a more engaging customer journey for two high potential customer segments, 1) Stable & Loyal policyholders who have held a Prudential policy for four years or longer (existing customers) and 2) SME owners (potential customers).

TBWA - Three-Sided Platform for Tennis Services

The objective of this new platform is to find a profitable means to bridge the gap between tennis coaching, booking and socializing. The platform will serve the players’ need to play tennis when they want to, the coaches’ need to utilize all of their coaching time, and the clubs’ need for efficiency to maximize revenue via underutilized coach and court time.

The ASB Action Learning team collaborated with TBWA Capital Markets to drill down on platform features, provide insights based on market research and build the market entry strategy for the project.

If you are interested in hosting an Action Learning project or you would like more information about this educational process, contact Mr. Sarmaji, Director of Action Learning or Prof. Loredana Padurean, Faculty Director of Action Learning.

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