This post was written by Anna Rzewnicki and published on the NC State Poole College of Management website.
A team of six Jenkins MBA students in the NC State University Poole College of Management earned second place – and a $15,000 team prize – at the 2016 National Black MBA Conference Case Competition held in New Orleans, La., in October. A total of 34 teams had been selected to compete in the annual case competition; first place, with a $25,000 prize, went to the University of Michigan. The prize award is split evenly among team members.
Poole College was also well represented at the conference’s Whiteboard Challenge. Jelyse Dawson, a first year Jenkins MBA student, finishing fourth out of 300 entrepreneurs with her digital whiteboard pitch for her startup, Fusion Fitness by Jelyse. (Read about her experience.)
NC State Jenkins MBA student Rudha Loganathan, who said he went to the conference “to win the case competition,” received the ‘Best Presenter” award. He and David Saterfield had both competed in 2015, as first-year Jenkins MBA students.
“Last year, we came so close to getting selected for the finals,” Loganathan said. “This year, David and I knew what we needed to do to win.”
Competing teams from colleges and universities across the country had one month to analyze a complex business case, designed to showcase their problem-solving skills, and to present findings at the conference to a panel of executives from leading companies and academic institutions.
This year’s case was about “a real time business problem – to develop a five-year strategic plan for FCA to enter the autonomous vehicle market,” Loganathan said, adding that the case gave him the opportunity to apply concepts learned in class and in previous work experience, while gaining an added advantage when applying for jobs.
He and David Saterfield, who also was on the 2015 Jenkins MBA team, served as team captains this year, with team members Chandan Dash, Malcolm Scott, Aarathi Sree Srinivasan and Vishnu Kotipalli. “Our past experience at last year’s case competition guided our preparation for this year,” Saterfield said.
“I now know what it is like to make a high stakes argument for executives in a business and how valuable it is to effectively communicate your ideas,” he said. “I also realized from this experience that I’ll take our students against any students in the country. And twice on Sunday’s. Our students, our brand is the best of the best.”
Dash, who also was in for the win, came away with similar thoughts. “I firmly believe that we stand on an equal footing with the best of the B school students in the U.S., and finishing second …. Re-enforced that belief,” he said.
The Jenkins MBA team members also gave credit to Poole College faculty for their success, including Dr. Karlyn Mitchell, associate professor of finance and Dr. Stefanie Robinson assistant professor of marketing, both in the college’s Department of Business Management.
“Dr. Mitchell’s finance class provided such a strong base for me,” Dash said. “I realized that smart hard work is the backbone for success,” and came away with “two extremely valuable insights. First, I got satisfaction, upon the confirmation of my aforementioned belief. Second, I realized that smart hard work is the backbone for success.” That includes both during analysis, “so there are no holes in your arguments” and when presenting the analysis in the boardroom.
OPPORTUNITY TO ANALYZE CASES, CAREER EXPOSURE
Srinivasan said her personal interest in analyzing cases and the stature of the competition – one of the major conferences in the country – drew her participate. “The exposure and experience at a national level competition is what I was looking for,” she said, “in addition to interacting with my target companies during the career expo at the conference.”
In working on the case, she drew on prior professional experience in strategy at Deloitte and a consumer behavior class from her first semester in the Jenkins MBA program.
Kotipalli said he became interested in the competition after hearing about it from Loganathan, who was his MBA Peer Coach. “I was intrigued and inspired by his resolve to win the competition this time. Problem solving and case analysis have always been my strong suit when I worked as a business analyst for the last five years. I felt I would be able to learn from my peers and also contribute to our team’s success,” he said. “The learning has been tremendous. I have to thank Rudha, Chandan and David for including us in the team and giving us the opportunity to learn.” The college’s Jenkins Career Management Center “has been extremely supportive,” he said.
The team’s successes also put the Jenkins MBA students on par with other premier business schools represented at the competition, something that Kotipalli said “will help us attack all future competitions with the most important weapon – confidence. “
ABOUT THE JENKINS MBA 2016 NATIONAL BLACK MBA COMPETITORS
- Rudawarsh Loganathan, second year, supply chain concentration and decision analytics certificate option
- David Saterfield, second year, supply chain and marketing concentrations
- Chandan Dash, second year, supply chain and finance concentrations, and decision analytics certificate option
- Malcolm Scott, first year, innovation management and entrepreneurship
- Aarathi Sree Srinivasan, first year, marketing concentration
- Vishnu Kotipalli, first year, supply chain and marketing concentrations
Also, Jelyse Dawson, first year Jenkins MBA student with marketing concentration, competed in the NBMBA Digital Whiteboard Pitch competition. Read her story.