executive summary 101


To prepare for this assignment, you must:

  • have completed your independent/individual tax analysis
  • read or revisit the Executive (PDF) and Executive Summary (PDF) sections of The Engineering Communication Manual provided for you
  • consider all four aspects of plant location decision making examined throughout the semester together: social/cultural, environmental, political, and economic
  • determine what your final recommendation
  • be able to understand and clearly articulate the justifications for your recommendation


The communication assignments in this course aim to develop communication skills that students will need in their professional lives. Students will study, analyze, and synthesize information and research through independent and group learning contexts, and will use both oral and written communication to do this work. Through these assignments, students will develop skills that will help them excel in their professional endeavors. Targeted skills include: argumentation; analysis; organization; presentation skills; and small group and interpersonal communication skills.


This assignment has three goals:

  1. to include tax analysis in your final recommendation
  2. synthesize the research you and your team have conducted related to plant location decision making throughout the semester
  3. make a case for your recommendation


The objectives of this assignment include: organization; argument building; making a case


For this assignment, you must first complete your tax analysis. Then, you must synthesize the social/cultural, political, environmental, and tax analysis aspects that you and your team have researched throughout the semester. You will present your recommendation and overall justifications in an Executive Summary, written for an executive audience.

Your summary must meet the following requirements:

  • The summary must be written to an executive audience
  • Your document must appear professional and be visually easy to navigate, including:
    • headings and subheadings as appropriate
    • bullet points as appropriate
      • (note: bullet points are not required, but many students asked about whether or not they could be included, and my answer was, and still is, “yes, bullet points may be included as appropriate, but should never be used in place of adequate detail”)
    • excellent organization
    • reasonable and thoughtful use of spacing and margins
    • attention to formatting that communicates professionalism, pride of work, and respect for the reader
  • Spacing: You may use single spacing, OR you may customize your spacing by selecting “Exactly” in the line spacing drop-down menu and use up to 16pt spacing. Use your own judgment and aesthetic preferences to determine your spacing choices, but be consistent.
  • You must equitably address all four factors you were asked to consider for this assignment: cultural/social, environmental, political, and economic factors.
  • Synthesize information for your reader; show them the connections you want them to understand. Always demonstrate for your reader how they should connect the information you are providing for them
    • Never assume that readers will make the same connections you have made, or that you want them to make, without your guidance.
  • Include an appendix with a graph and explanation of your economic analysis. The graph must be clearly labeled and include a description that will help your audience understand the significance of the graph.
    • The appendix must be part of the document, but will appear on its own page.
    • Use the “Page Break” function to create a separate page for your appendix.
  • Your recommendation must be clear and direct. It should appear in the introductory section of your summary. Remember, you’re not writing a mystery. Your executive audience wants you to be clear and direct, with thoughtful and well-developed justifications.
  • Your summary must include the elements of an introduction, body, and conclusion, but must use specific, professional terminology for those sections. Remember: An executive summary is not an academic paper.
  • Your summary should be approximately 2 – 2.5 pages of writing, not including relevant visual aids (such as charts, graphs, and figures that will aid your justifications), and your appendix, which will make the page count longer.
    • Your submission will be at least 3 pages in total with the inclusion of your appendix
    • Your submission might be up to 5 pages if you also include visual aids such as charts, graphs, or figures in the body of your summary
  • Visual aids in the body of your summary are not required. However, you may find that some charts, graphs, or figures may help clarify your justification, in which case you should use them. However, you must not use visual aids in place of providing sufficient explanations or justifications.
    • Visual aids must aid your explanations and justifications, not replace them.


Econ Exec Summary Rubric

Econ Exec Summary Rubric

Criteria Ratings Pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Audience The student has used tone and wording in their summary that is appropriate for an executive audience.

5.0 pts Audience appropriate tone and word usage

The student has successfully implemented a tone and word usage appropriate for an executive audience.

3.5 pts Inadequate tone and word usage

The student did not implement an offensive tone or word usage, but the tone and word usage were not appropriate for an executive audience. The tone and word usage lacked professionalism in some way. Unprofessional tone and word usage includes, but is not limited to: slang; overuse of contractions; misspelled words; casual language; situationally inappropriate punctuation, such as exclamation points; use of situationally inappropriate figures, such as memes or cartoons; etc.

0.0 pts Opinionated, emotional, or otherwise inappropriate tone or word usage

Although students are being asked to provide a recommendation, the recommendation must be clearly founded on evidence. The student should not provide an opinionated recommendation, and all claims made by the student must be justifiable and founded on evidence. Furthermore, students must not focus their argument on emotional appeals. While appeals to ethics and responsibility make sense and can be backed by evidence, students should avoid emotional language and instead focus on the evidence they have collected and research they have conducted throughout the semester.

5.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Visual Organization The student has developed a well organized and visually easy to navigate document appropriate for a busy executive audience.

5.0 pts Well organized and professional looking document

The student has created a well organized and visually easy to navigate document. The student has implemented headings (and subheadings as appropriate), bullet points as appropriate, excellent organization, and attention to spacing, margins, and formatting that communicates professionalism and pride of work.

3.0 pts Overall good visual organization

The visual organization of the document is generally good and includes headings, but may not achieve excellent visual organization in some way. The issue may be small, but detracts from the document in some way. For example, bullet points may be malaligned or of an inconsistent style, which detracts from the professionalism of the document as a whole.

0.0 pts Inadequate visual organization

The student has not organized the document well visually, making it difficult to scan and read through. This may include inappropriate headings (such as “Introduction,” “Body,” and “Conclusion” instead of headings appropriate for an Executive Summary), inconsistent line spacing, inconsistent spacing between paragraphs, maligned images, or formatting other formatting issues that make scanning the document difficult, etc.

5.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Topics The student has addressed all four factors studied throughout the semester: cultural/social, environmental, political, and tax analysis. The factors are given more or less equitable attention, with the understanding that one or two factors may be of more importance to the decision and thus require a little more space.

5.0 pts All factors are clearly addressed

The student has addressed all four factors studied throughout the semester. The four factors are given reasonably equitable space in the document.

2.5 pts Factors are not equitably addressed

All four factors are addressed, but the student has given one or two factors either significantly more, or significantly less attention in the main body of the summary, making the student’s assessment and justifications seem lopsided and ill-conceived. (Note: Students are expected to address only the tax analysis in the appendix, and the appendix will not be included in this part of the assessment.)

0.0 pts Factors are either not all addressed, or one or more factors are dismissed

The student may have omitted factors from their summary, or addressed one or more factors so minimally that they may as well have been missing.

5.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Tax Analysis Appendix and Graphs The student has included an appendix or appendices with their tax analysis, including graphs and an explanation of the significance of their findings.

10.0 pts Appendix or appendices with tax analysis graph and explanation is included

The student has included an appendix or appendices that are titled and include a graph or graphs with titles and descriptions. Additional description is included on the page as necessary to explain the method of analysis and significance of findings. The description of the significance of the graph is appropriate for an executive audience that may not be familiar with tax analysis processes or jargon.

6.5 pts Appendix or appendices with graphs are included, but something is missing or wrong

The student has included an appendix or appendices, but something is missing or wrong. This may include, but is not limited to: the appendix or appendices do not appear on their own pages; the appendix or appendices appear on their own pages, but the pages are not titled; the tax analysis graphs are not titled, labeled, or described; any issues that makes it difficult for the reader to understand what they are looking at; etc.

3.0 pts Graphs were included, but do not communicate the significance; OR are not as an appendix or appendices

The student has either failed to include the graphs and accompanying explanations as an appendix or appendices, or has not adequately communicated the significance of the graph(s) and findings to the reader. The student may have omitted any explanation at all, may have provided an inadequate explanation, may have described only the analysis method (but not the significance of the findings), etc. The failure to communicate the significance of the graphs and findings rendered the graphs meaningless to the intended audience.

0.0 pts There are no graphs.

There are no graphs.

10.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Content Organization The student has organized their work logically.

5.0 pts Excellent organization

The content of the summary is well organized, offering the reader context and making the recommendation first, then providing some detail and justifications, followed by a concise wrap-up and reconnection to the recommendation.

3.5 pts Fair organization

It is possible to understand the content of the document, but it is not an easy task. The student did not seem to understand their own recommendation or reasoning, or were perhaps torn. In any case, the reader is not convinced.

1.0 pts Poor Organization

The content is poorly organized. It is extremely difficult to discern the point, justifications, reasoning, etc., and it appears as though the author did little to no research prior to writing down these thoughts.

0.0 pts There is no written content

The student did not provide written content for organization. This may mean that the student submitted only a tax analysis graph with no “summary” preceding it, or something else.

5.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Recommendation Your recommendation is clear and direct, and is offered toward the beginning of the document.

10.0 pts The recommendation is clear, direct, and promptly offered with context

The recommendation is clear and direct, and offered toward the beginning of the document. The recommendation is also contextualized appropriately for an executive audience.

6.5 pts The recommendation is included, but not well contextualized

The student included a recommendation, but it is not contextualized well for an executive audience, forcing the audience to seek further context before they can understand the recommendation being made.

3.0 pts The recommendation is included, but it is not clear

The recommendation is included, but the student did not make a clear argument. This could be because the student was undecided and did not make a strong recommendation one way or the other, because the recommendation was poorly stated, etc.

1.0 pts A recommendation was included, but it was only included at the end

The recommendation must be included at the beginning, and also reinforced at the end. This is not a mystery novel.

0.0 pts There was no direct recommendation, or the recommendation was based on or included opinionated or emotional language

There was no direct recommendation, or the recommendation was based on or included opinionated or emotional language

10.0 pts

Total Points: 40.0

Problem Description

Your client, Heidari, Incorporated, is going to build a new wind turbine manufacturing facility. Heidari, Inc. is a multinational corporation based in Des Moines, Iowa United States. The budget for completing the facility and purchasing and installing the machinery is estimated to be $3.9 million (assume $3 million for the facility and $900,000 for machinery). It will have a net annual income cash flow of $850,000 for the next 10 years (gross income before taxes). Initially, they were planning to locate the facility near their US headquarters location where their total incremental tax rate would be 33% (21% Federal and 12% State). However, they have been approached by the Danish government and want to evaluate the option of building the facility in Denmark against their original plan of building in the US. Assume that the interest rate is 8% per year (or MARR for both countries). You will need to research tax methods and depreciation rules in Denmark and compare with those of the US.

Your consulting firm, [Your name] Consulting, has been hired to complete an evaluation and make a recommendation for where to build the plant. As part of your initial engineering economic analysis for this problem, you must examine global political, environmental, and social considerations that contribute to responsible and ethical engineering problem-solving, and that might affect Heidari’s reputation and the operation and profitability of the plant.

Additionally, you will complete a financial analysis using a calculation of the after-tax present worth of adding the new manufacturing facility in each of the two countries (Denmark and the United States). You will need to research tax methods and depreciation rules in Denmark and compare what you find with those of the US. Use these results to recommend where to make the investment.

The final step of your project will be to write an Executive Summary. You will make a recommendation for plant location, and you will justify your recommendation using the cultural/social, political, environmental, and economic research and analysis that you conducted throughout the semester.

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