The MBA Student Experience: A National Case Competition

For the first time, the Opus College of Business sent a team of 4 Full-time MBA students to the National Black MBA Association/Chrysler Case Competition this year. The event was held September 27 and 28 in Indianapolis. What follows is a recap of the experience from one of the student participants, second-year MBA student Boubakar Jalloh.

The Case Competition team with Dean Puto, Assistant Dean Woodson and Professor Arnold.

As a team, we were honored to represent the University of Saint Thomas at the National Black MBA Association Chrysler Case Competition and are very grateful for the support and sponsorship Ecolab has provided to us in this journey. We were able to utilize the knowledge we have accumulated as MBA students at UST,as well as our experiences and diverse backgrounds, to bring substance and an actionable plan to the case.

In preparing for the case competition our strategy was to allocate responsibilities largely based on our individual strengths and expertise. This approach was most effective because it also provided a learning opportunity for all members, as we observed the thinking process that goes into every decision. Joelle Allen, for example, has a strong background in marketing and advertising, so we looked to her to guide a marketing mix campaign directed toward our target market. Similarly, Lissette Prendes’ strong background in finance means we relied on her great insights into the financial analysis of our case.

In all, the experience was a learning opportunity for each of us. It provided a unique opportunity to expand our knowledge about a new and vibrant industry that has huge implications in our daily lives. We were proud to represent the University of Saint Thomas, and continue the UST tradition of solid performance both at the regional and national level.

After an in-depth analysis of the case, we provided a recommendation for Chrysler’s business issue.  We competed against 29 schools; in the preliminary rounds the teams were randomly assigned in groups from which a team was to be selected to go on to the second round.  Our team participated in a very competitive group; we competed against Yale University, Case Western University and the 2011 Case Competition Winner FAMU, together with other top business schools.

After our presentation, the judges were very impressed and appreciative of the high-quality work we presented. Unfortunately, FAMU was selected to go on to the second round with a marginal victory of one point.  When the competitions concluded, we participated in the feedback session with Chrysler’s management team and the judges. From the session we learned of our shortcomings and strengths that can be leveraged for upcoming competitions. This was very helpful; as this was the first time a UST team has competed at the National Black MBA Association Chrysler Case Competition. Additionally, Chrysler’s management team provided us with the key elements that are evaluated. This was especially important because these were insights that the next UST team participating can leverage.

While the experience provided us the opportunity to compete with top business schools nationwide, the lessons we learned through the process will prove to be invaluable to our personal and professional careers. Throughout the process, time management was a critical element. Being able to work with and around team member’s busy schedule was key in putting together our deliverables. Flexibility by all members made this task much more manageable than it otherwise could have been. Though the experience has expanded our knowledge about the industry, effective team management dynamics, time management and persistence, it is the relationship that we were able to foster as a team and with our mentors that has yielded the most return from the experience as a whole, and will continue to do so in the future.