BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Each year, there are dozens of business case competitions worldwide, where students apply their real-world grasp of business concepts under tremendous pressure. For those in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, it’s been another solid year, including some recent victories for students studying finance, investment management and real estate.
Case competitions are to business schools what moot court competitions are to law schools. They require teams of usually four students to review and analyze a business issue — under a tight deadline — and present their best solutions to judges in presentations.
The events usually bring together students from top schools across the nation and sometimes the world. In addition to prize money, students winning the contests receive attention from corporate recruiters looking for top talent and, of course, bring prestige to their schools. Originally an element of the MBA experience, case competitions are viewed as crucial for a growing number of undergraduate business students.
“I am extraordinarily proud of our Kelley undergraduate teams’ success in recent case competitions,” said Pat Hopkins, chair of the Undergraduate Program and the Glaubinger Chair for Undergraduate Leadership. “These students continue a legacy of excellence as they represent the school in competing against the best and brightest business students in the country.
A competition that offers a real-life exposure to consulting
A team consisting of four freshmen at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business recently won the Deloitte National Undergraduate Case Competition. Another team of Kelley real estate students also came in first place, in the ICSC Foundation Case Competition.
Deloitte hosted its competition at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas on March 18, which is limited to students who are early in their college studies – they must be freshmen or sophomores. They also must demonstrate a strong interest in a career in professional services and a grade point average of 3.3 or higher.
The Kelley School team competed with those from 15 other universities across the United States, most of whom consisted of sophomores. The Kelley team was selected through a local Deloitte IU case competition in February.
Members of the winning team were Christopher Nosewicz, a Fry Scholar from Geneva, Ill; Sahir Mir, from Plainsboro, N.J., Nimish Bhat, from Carmel, Ind., and Ansh Chawla, from Allen, Texas.
“I had the privilege of being their coach for the competition at Deloitte University and couldn’t be more impressed with how they worked through a tough case and crafted a compelling presentation to senior Deloitte leaders,” said Colin McCarthy, a 2019 Kelley alumnus who serves as a consultant in the Office of the Chair at Deloitte US. “I know myself, the incredible IU team, and all Deloitte IU alums are feeling extra proud to be Hoosiers from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business!”
Students offer thoughts about revitalizing a floundering mall
Held remotely, the case study for the ICSC Foundation Case Competition hit on one of the biggest issues facing the marketplaces industry’s mind — the revitalization of a foundering mall.
A case was presented to students at Kelley, Baruch College, California State-Northridge and Loyola Marymount University, along with demographic information, a rent roll, an evaluation of current expenses and a map of surrounding land uses.
Teams were asked to make investments in the mall that would allow for a change from apparel to some mix of entertainment, office, service and/or convenience retail. IU’s team proposed a mall conversion focused on retail, health and office uses emphasizing sustainability to attract tenants and investors.
The competition took place on March 5. Teams had a week to analyze materials, strategize and submit a seven-minute pre-recorded presentation. Four judges — former VEREIT CEO and current ICSC chairman Glenn Rufrano, Retail Property Solutions principal Beverly Ricks, Acadia Realty Trust senior vice president and co-head of acquisitions Reginald Livingston and Cushman & Wakefield Retail Services Americas leader Sara Gougarty — reviewed the presentations and accompanying documents before questioning each team for 10 minutes. Students received guidance from an industry advisor.
Kelley’s winning team consisted of David “Trace” Held, of Carmel, Ind.; Will Higgins, of Brentwood, Tenn.; Franco Matticoli, of Agoura Hills, Calif.; Mike Ruddell, of Indianapolis; and Bryce Wetzel, of Fishers, Ind.
Quoted in an article in Commerce + Communities Today, Dulin said one judge noted that the solution was not what they would have pursued. “However, they crafted a strong argument to support their decisions,” he said.
Rufrano felt he learned as much from the students as they did from him. “We were trying to teach these students to work with problems that are unsolvable,” he said. “What matters is how they approach the problem and how they present.”
“The real estate case competitions our students compete in do a great job of integrating and applying challenging concepts while developing their team building, interpersonal, and technical skills,” Doug McCoy, the Al and Shary Oak Director of Real Estate, director of the Center for Real Estate Studies and teaching professor of finance. “Moreover, it gives students a vehicle to take their job interview conversations to a unique level which helps them achieve a special start in the industry.”
Their presentation can be seen online.
Pitching a winning stock
Another recent example was the performance of four members of the school’s Knall-Cohen Fund, which is associated with the Investment Management Workshop. They finished third out of 24 teams who participated in the 8th annual Stock Pitch Competition at the University of Georgia on Feb. 26.
Offering a winning recommendation of Long – Mondelez International, a global manufacturer and distributor of packaged food products, were Jordan Weisner, of Fort Lee, N.J.; Kavya Narayanan, of Plano, Texas; J.J. Woodfin, of Columbus, Ohio; and Kedar Ram, of Monmouth, N.J.
It’s interesting to note the school’s success in the breadth of disciplines and types of competitions. Many other schools only perform well in contests where they have a specialty.
“We know the Kelley curriculum prepares students to be successful in real world business situations,” Hopkins said. “These students are taking it to the next level by applying what they have learned to solve real world business problems well before they even graduate.”