A three-member MBA students’ team from the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business has won the first place and $10,000 in the final round of the Katz Invitational Case Competition.
The competition was held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business on February 7–8, 2020. The invitational case competition was, according to the organisers, designed to test the teams’ ability to collaborate on different business disciplines.
The case study would provide them with an opportunity to evaluate a tough business situation in multiple perspectives in a very short period of time. They will then present their recommendations to senior executives. The ultimate goal was to allow students to apply their business education to deliver unique and creative recommendations.
UF Warrington Emerges the Winner at Katz Invitation Case Competition 2020
Preparations for the Competition
Writing about her experience as part of the winning team, Kristyn Cadwell says she and her MBA’21 colleague Chelsea Creech were asked by Ali Kassam and Nick Carpenter (both MBA’20) to join the team.
While it was the second time Ali and Nick were participating in the competition, the two junior students had practically no idea about the competition.
The topic given to the team was to analyze the future of electrification in aerospace and to identify ways to enter the electrification market.
Kristyn says having spent countless hours in preparation, they managed to gather a huge amount of information about Crane Co. an American industrial products company based in Stamford, Connecticut.
They also managed to learn about the aerospace market and electric batteries. Crane Co. has an aerospace & electronics subsidiary, Crane Aerospace & Electronics. For the next two weeks, the team spent every evening and weekend locked in a Hough Hall breakout room together arguing solutions, drawing and re-drawing ideas on the whiteboard and trying to anticipate every question anyone could have about the presentation.
Kristyn says the team ran through the presentation so many times that she could not only recite her slides from memory, but everyone else’s too.
“We knew that our objective was not just to win; it was to become better presenters, researchers and problem-solvers…” she says.
Nervous Moments at the Competition
On arrival at the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business, they met the other teams. They held did two practice run-throughs on the eve of the competition at the venue itself.
The appearance of a few problems including a lagging clicker and the animations not appearing at the right time dampened their spirits somewhat. It also made them realize that after weeks of hard work in creating this project, they may still end up not winning the competition.
On the day of the competition, the team sat in the practice room doing a few final run-throughs and watching clips of The Office to calm the nerves. About the first-round presentation, Kristyn says that both Ali and she managed to make their best presentations. Likewise, Nick and Chelsea did the best run-throughs of their slides.
“Ali concluded our recommendation and it was time for Q&A. The judges asked every question we wanted them to, and I was so pleased with our answers. Then someone called time. Thirty of the most stressful minutes of my life were over and we walked solemnly back to our practice room. As soon as the door was closed, we started hugging each other, overwhelmed by how well we had done. Some of us had tears in our eyes,” she says.
They anxiously waited for lunch as that was the time for the announcement of the teams for the final round. The team was called and presented the second time. When the winners were announced the team found itself in the first place.
“First place, University of Florida!” It was us. We had done it. Weeks of hard work, frustrations, and hope and here we were the first-place winners. The night ended in a flurry of pictures and congratulations and finally, we were alone again as a team, reminding each other every few minutes “Guys, we won,” Kristyn says.
A Multi-dimensional Competition
The case for the Katz Invitational Case Competition is multi-dimensional, designed to test the teams’ ability to collaborate on different business disciplines. It provides the participating teams to will give students the opportunity to evaluate a tough business situation in multiple perspectives in a very short period of time and to present their recommendations to senior executives.
The competition offers three prizes. The first place has a monetary component of $10,000, the 2nd place, $5,000 and the 3rd place $3,000.
In the preliminary round on February 8, all the teams competed in four different bracket groups. Each team was given 20 minutes to present their case analysis and recommendations. It also had a 10-minute question & answer period during which the judges put questions to the presenting team. Only the presenting team, judges, timekeeper, and Case Competition staff were permitted in the room.
All four team members were required to have a speaking role during the presentation. Each team member was to actively participate in the team’s presentation.
The teams were asked to be prepared to present their analysis using an LCD projector and a computer, operating it via a keyboard or a remote mouse provided by the organizers. Teams were barred from using personal laptops. In case of technical difficulties, teams were told to be ready to present using hard copies of their presentation.
In the final round, the presentation order was chosen randomly. Finalist teams were not allowed to alter their PowerPoint presentations. Similar to the first round, teams were told to keep the presentation strictly within the 20-minutes guideline and were provided 15 minutes for Q&A with the judges. The final presentations were open to public viewing.
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