The Ariel Investments case examines several managerial challenges that John Rogers, founder and Co-CEO, and Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO, have encountered at Ariel. The case provides an opportunity for students to plan and practice difficult conversations in a variety of professional contexts. Each of the three vignettes highlighted in the case can be solved through a variety of approaches and decisions, with no clear “right” decision.
The first vignette covers the 2008 financial crisis. Hobson and Rogers must navigate the tumultuous external environment, seeking advice from mentors, managing communications with their investors, and deciding how their team will change. In the second vignette, Hobson and Rogers, running the first minority-owned investment firm in the United States, are forced to confront systemic racism in interactions with potential (fictional) clients. The final vignette reveals a challenge Hobson faced with the departure of a long-term, loyal employee, who was underperforming. Hobson is left with the challenge of communicating news of the employee’s departure to the rest of the organization.
In this case, students must role play
The case examines several learning objectives: 1) Deciding on, and navigating employee layoffs in a challenging external environment; 2) Navigating systemic racism in the workplace 3) Managing communications with the organization after firing a long-term, well liked employee.