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Sherif Mityas was a project manager with A.T. Kearney, which was working with a foreign company to assist in the turnaround of the company’s operations in the United States. To acquire these results A.T Kearney worked with the U.S subsidiary of the Japanese company. Sherif Mityas was, however, faced with a dilemma when the Japanese company asked him to evaluate its U.S subsidiary, ZUSA. This put Sherif Mityas in a extremely tough position because he had to evaluate the employees of a company that had been particularly instrumental in the success of his project. In addition, the management of ZUSA would not be willing to work with Sherif Mityas in the future; this would be detrimental to his project. To this end, Sherif Mityas evaluated employees of ZUSA in secret.
What is your view on how this project has gone so far?
The project was successful as far as its initial objectives were concerned. The ZPW executives hired A.T Whitney to conduct an investigation on how to turn around it U.S operations into profit generating investments. Mityas as the project manager fulfilled these goals and came up with recommendations, on how to improve operations. Despite the fact that ZPW executives considered the project a waste of time, it implemented the findings of the report given by A.T Whitney, which led to ZUSA breaking even for the first time.
a) The process of the project: Please use the Block chapters on the phases of a consulting project to prepare your brief assessment of each of the phases of the consulting process so far in the client engagement with Zen Products Worldwide/ZUSA.
The client engagement: Phase one
Mitays recruited a fresh graduate to assist him in the evaluation of ZUSA. Phase one was a fact finding mission where Mityas and his colleague established the problems that faced the US operations companies. For the evaluation, they worked with the employees of ZUSA namely: the vice president of operations who ensured they were well briefed on the operations of the company and travelled with them when it was necessary. The financial officer ensured that they had all the necessary data on the financial status of the company. Mityas and Moore faced some passive aggression from the Chief executive officer who was not pleased with their presence. They held meetings with the employees of ZUSA to ensure that everybody was briefed on the continuation of the project. In the mid project evaluation meeting, Mityas presented a report showed why the U.S operations were not making profits. In addition, the report also presented some groundwork recommendations for improvement. The ZPW executives were pleased with the finding, but it was at this stage that they expressed their concern over the management executives of their US operations. Mityas expressed his concern to A.T Kearney senior partner Tom Whitney on the direction the ZPW executives wanted to take the project. Tom asked him to carry on with the project as scheduled, but to carry out another assessment on the employees of ZUSA secretly, and Mityas agreed.
Phase two of the project was implementation of the recommendations. Miatyas spoke to the representatives, and they all agreed that something needed to be done. However, they were all skeptical of the senior executives’ ability to achieve the recommendations. The meetings held by Mityas and the employees; revealed that the employees did not have confidence in the management team. In this phase, revenues increased, but the unprofitable long-term contracts, the five unproductive manufacturing plants and increases in labor turnover countered this.
b) As possible give the data you have in the case, give a brief assessment of the quality of the findings/recommendations that Sherif and his team have produced so far for this client, including the client presentation they have just made.
The findings of the project gave a clear perspective as to what was leading to the losses in the company. Mityas was able to observe these inefficiencies from a direct point of view through interaction with the ZUSA management team. The capabilities gaps assessment was an accurate representation of the situation on the ground. The validity of these results was strengthened by the views of the other employees towards the senior management. However, the process by which this information was obtained was illegal and unethical thus lowering the credibility of the consultancy team both to the client and to the ZUSA management.
c) As of the end of the case, what will you do next, and why?
It was unfair that the ZPW executives implemented the findings of the consultancy team even after sending them dismissive emails. The replacement of the ZUSA management team was done on information that was obtained in an unethical manner; therefore, should not be valid.
As a consultant with a successful career, then I would deeply reflect on the outcome of this situation, and try to reclaim my reputation. The morally upright things to do is report the situation to the relevant authorities and take responsibility for my actions.
In March 2012, Sherif Mityas plead guilty to insider trading. What are your thoughts about ethics and the shadow side of consulting?
In the business of consultancy, ethics and professionalism are tremendously important in maintaining clients. As a consultant, one is exposed to proprietary information that should not be disclosed. A personal sense of right and wrong is very important, if a client asks a consultant to do something that is unethical or illegal then the client should gracefully bow out of the contract. As in the case above, there was a conflict of interest because Mityas took advantage of his project to conduct an evaluation on the unknowing employees of ZUSA. As a consultant, one should not use the information availed to them to benefit other while placing other people at a disadvantage. The decision should be made from the perspective of personal integrity that is derived from the virtue theory. In this perspective, when one is faced with a dilemma they should deal with it in two ways. The first, the person should evaluate his character from his colleagues’ point of view, and in the second, one should evaluate themselves based on their moral values of right and wrong.