Big weekend: Foster School brings home three case competition victories

Student teams representing the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business won three separate case competitions—in Montreal, Cleveland and Washington, DC—on the same day this past weekend, Saturday, February 28.

KeyBank-Ohio State University Minority Case CompetitionA team of Foster MBAs triumphed at the KeyBank-Ohio State University Minority Case Competition in Cleveland. Evening MBAs Bryan Tomlinson and Rina Sarkar and full-time MBAs Hakim Jones and Kathleen August delivered the most compelling plan to increase KeyBank’s market share in the small business banking market, and added a set of tactics to empower managers to implement this plan. In doing so, they outwitted teams from the University of Chicago, Indiana University, Ohio State, Yale, Carnegie Mellon and 15 other top business schools. August was awarded “Best Presenter” for the competition. Jones won “Best Q&A” honors.

“This is another wonderful demonstration of the Foster MBA model—great students, talented faculty, and a curriculum designed to offer transformative experiences in strategic thinking and leadership,” said Dan Turner, associate dean for masters programs and executive education. “It all adds up to innovative, strategic solutions for businesses facing complex, unstructured, real world-problems.”

Hilltop Business Strategy ChallengeUndergraduates from the Foster School took top honors at the Business Strategy Challenge at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The team of Ray Phua, Olivia Miasik, Stephanie Payne and Rikki Johnson weighed an unconventional not-for-profit case, stretching their knowledge of business strategy into a new arena. The conundrum was how best to guide the United Way through the economic crisis. The Foster team’s solution: form partnerships with healthy, like-minded organizations such as the Gates Foundation in the short-term and reorganize internally to better influence legislation for the long-term. The top-flight competition—including Georgetown, USC, New York University, Northwestern and Carnegie Mellon—couldn’t match the Foster team.

“The fact that we had the opportunity to present our recommendations to actual representatives of United Way and know that what we proposed would be considered seriously and possibly be implemented was all the more motivating and very gratifying in the end,” said Miasik, a senior studying accounting and international business at the Foster School. “I think our great team dynamic was key to formulating a successful deliverable for United Way.”

John Molson Undergraduate Case CompetitionAnother team of Foster undergrads won the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. The Molson competition was as much a test of stamina as of strategy. The Foster team–Vanessa Lopez, Derrick Nation, Eric Appesland and Susan Dugal (named “Best Presenter” for the competition)—gamely navigated three introductory lightning-round cases that had to be analyzed without the aid of the Internet or any notes, books or other reference materials. The final round was a more traditional, 24-hour “live” case involving the future plans for Montreal’s working waterfront. The Foster team recommended moving shipping facilities to a new, larger site to increase capacity, while turning the Old Port into an elaborate draw for tourism.

This solution, complete with an artist’s rendition of the “new” Old Port, distanced the Foster team from a world-class field representing universities in Canada, China, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore and the United States. “Our team was complimented on their strategy and performance,” said Jennifer Kitchen, coordinator of student development at the Foster School. “The panel of judges included the director of operations for the Montreal Port Authority who said that he would have no reservations about bringing our team’s recommendations and implementation plan to his board of directors. That’s high praise.”

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