Johnson Students Snap Up Case Competition Wins
First-place finishes showcase diversity of skills, strengths, and acumen
Student teams from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University have won case competitions across the country in recent weeks, including the GE / Deloitte National Human Capital Case Competition, the University of North Carolina Marketing Case Competition, the Accenture Innovation Challenge, and the Northeast Regional GE Experienced Commercial Leadership Program (ECLP) Case Competition. These competitions are important events for Johnson students, because they allow them to apply classroom learning, build skill and confidence, and advance their career prospects.
The team that won the GE / Deloitte National Human Capital Case Competition consisted of a mixed team of Johnson and Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) students including Kelli May (’14), Pete Cronin (’14), Joseph Mohn (’14), Royce Lee (’13), and Catherine Guydan (’14). The team finished ahead of the University of Southern California, Yale University, and Vanderbilt, and took home $10,000 in prize money. Johnson teams took second place at this event in 2008 and 2010.
“The diverse combination of backgrounds and experiences was a key asset of our team,” said Royce Lee, of the Human Capital Case Competition team. “Each person brought strengths that complemented the others well. For example, one team member had more quantitative and financial skills, whereas another was a strong idea generator.”
Teams were charged with making strategic recommendations for the direction of Salesforce.com Foundation, the philanthropic extension of popular software-as-a-service provider Salesforce.com. The Johnson team won not only because of its human capital recommendations, but also because of utilizing financing- and marketing-related reasoning in the case presentation, said team member Kelli May. One of the chief lessons of the competition was in integrating human capital knowledge with general strategy, she said.
“We are taught that human resource professionals should have business acumen and partner with business leaders to align the HR strategy with the company's overall strategy,” May said. “This competition made it possible for us to think about what that really looks like in practice.”
Another Johnson team, consisting of Stephanie Hsi, Jack Jensen, Matt Russo, and Yoni Klein, all from the MBA Cass of 2014, took first place in the 2012 University of North Carolina Marketing Case Competition, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. The UNC competition, now in its 10th year, attracts competitors from top business schools to solve marketing challenges. This year, Johnson’s winning team beat out competitors from Kellogg (Northwestern University), Ross (University of Michigan), Fuqua (Duke University), and Kenan-Flagler (University of North Carolina), among others.
Finally, the Johnson team of Michael Ditter, David Schuette, Michael Butler, and Laura Corush, all MBA Class of 2014, won the 2012 Accenture Innovation Challenge. The Accenture contest focused on generating solutions for a real-life business challenge faced by two of Accenture’s non-profit partners, America’s Promise Alliance and KaBOOM.
Successful students in case competitions are often highly-prized recruits for top companies, and this proved true for the team in the Accenture competition. Some members walked away from the weekend with internship offers in hand.
“The competition was very visible at very senior levels within Accenture, both within the nonprofit practice (as they were at the finals), and also across the broader organization,” said team member David Schuette.
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