Owen School students take first place in three national case competitions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a display of innovative thinking and competitive spirit, teams of MBA students from the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management emerged victorious at three of the nation’s premier case competitions last month. In addition, Owen MBAs were finalists in two other recent case contests specifically for minority students.

“We’re thrilled with the achievements of our student teams,” said Jim Bradford, dean of the Owen School. “Once again, they have proven that Owen students are second to none. Their accomplishments reflect two of the hallmarks of an Owen education – cutting-edge thinking and real-world knowledge.”

Case competitions team several students from an MBA program to research and analyze a real-life business problem, working under a deadline, and then make a presentation for a plan of action to a team of judges from the corporate community. In recent years, case competitions have become a common tool for student MBAs to test their newly acquired skills in strategic thinking and problem solving.

Already this year, Owen students have bested teams from top business schools around the world at contests hosted by Carnegie Mellon, Ohio State and Thunderbird, and posted finishes in the top echelons at competitions held by the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) and the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA).

In the most recent victory, a team of four Owen students came out on top in a field of more than 321 teams from 83 universities and 18 different nations at this year’s Global Innovation Challenge. Now in its third year, the Global Innovation Challenge is hosted by Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management, in Glendale, Ariz. Owen students took second place in this same competition last year.

The Owen students developed a concept for Hilton Hotels, one of the contest’s sponsors, to foster a thriving service culture among the hotel chain’s employees, and their solution earned them the title of “most innovative MBA team in the world” and a $20,000 prize. The multinational team included Alejandro Corpeno from Honduras, Bana Shomali from Jordan, Michael Monteforte of the United States and Sangram Borkar of India. Corpeno attributed much of the team’s success to the breadth of its diversity and its unique approach to the innovation process, which he believes is the “heart and soul of successful businesses.”

At the second annual KeyBank Minority Case Competition, hosted by the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University, teams tackled a business issue with diversity implications for KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. The Owen students’ solution, presented at the company’s world headquarters in Cleveland, earned team members kudos from the judges and the top prize of $6,000. Team members included Sydonia Blake, Terrell Taylor, Corey Smith and Jacqueline Brooks.

In a unique and timely twist, teams participating in the 10th Annual International Operations Case Competition at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh were asked to formulate a plan to assist a utility company in the restoration of power after a hurricane. Widely regarded as one of the most significant case competitions in the operations field, this year’s invitation-only contest included 15 student teams from the United States, Canada and China. The team from Owen – Matthew Behrmann, Mark Garton, Nathan Monday and Landon Davies – earned the top spot with a plan that called for reducing the vendor’s power and building accountability.

Vanderbilt MBAs were also among the finalists at two other prominent case competitions for minority students, those sponsored by the NSHMBA and the NBMBAA. Both the NSHMBA team –Cindy Biddle, Tyler Heath, Juan Melchor and Russell Shockley – and the NBMBAA team –Katrice Branner, Harvey Brown, Maame Stephens and Leslie McClain – placed in the top six at competitions held at each organization’s annual conference in Anaheim and San Diego, respectively.

Bradford sees tremendous value in student participation in case competitions. “The types of issues that students address in these contests are exactly the same as those they will face after they graduate,” he said. “They provide relevant and challenging experience as these students prepare to enter today’s challenging global business environment.”

The Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University is ranked as a top institution by Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times and Forbes. For more news about Owen, visit www.owen.vanderbilt.edu.

Media contact: Susanne Hicks, (615) 322-NEWS

Explore Story Topics