Rutgers Business School students win international case competition at Carnegie Mellon

A team of MBA students representing Rutgers Business School in Newark and New Brunswick won first place in a recent international case competition, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business International Case Competition.

The competition asked students to come up with strategies and solutions to move a tech giant through the real business problem of semiconductor shortages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Led by MBA student Thomas Parker, the team of Nicholas Felli, Neil Gajjar and Joseph Russomanno were dubbed the “homecoming kids” by Joe Slota, an executive-in-residence at Rutgers Business School who coached them. For the team, Slota was a “huge motivator,” Parker said.

The Tepper contest centered on a major business issue for the tech sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The students were asked to identify how Honeywell (the contest sponsor) could best weather a troubling shortage of semiconductors.

Case competitions are considered important experiences for MBA students because they require them to apply their knowledge in the classroom to solve business problems, usually, as in the Tepper competition, drawn from real life.

In the Tepper case, teams had a total of eight days to prepare for the competition once they received the invite. The November competition involved 25 teams, including students from Tepper, McDonough School of Business (Georgetown University), Kelley School of Business (Indiana University), Marshall Business School (University of Southern California) and the National University of Singapore.

Rutgers MBA students created and continued to refine a PowerPoint presentation that would showcase the team’s review of the issue in a well-rehearsed 15-minute virtual presentation.

What happened in the presentation ended up setting the Rutgers team apart. Parker said the team familiarized themselves with Honeywell’s business. To get a sense of how the company had already responded to shortages, members tuned in to a quarterly earnings call to hear the CEO’s remarks to investors.

“We didn’t want to go up there and come up with ideas that the company already had,” Parker said. “We wanted to know what Honeywell was already doing. It gave us a boost. »

The students drew on the supply chain knowledge of team member Russomanno, whose contributions also included safeguarding the team’s ability to compete when he stepped in to fill a sudden vacancy.

In their presentation, the Rutgers students included other differentiators: they explained how Honeywell could improve its relationships with suppliers, and they looked at what other companies were doing in response to semiconductor shortages, including a major tech company’s decision to refocus its business operations. until the situation improves.

“We have identified answers. We backed it up with facts,” Parker said. “We wanted it to be simple and straightforward. We put together a clear picture and the judges were able to connect the dots.

In the final round, the Rutgers MBAs received the top prize of $7,500. Students from the University of Southern California took second place and a team from the National University of Singapore won third place.

Slota, the Deloitte executive who coached the Rutgers team, said he was tough on the students, especially at first.

“There were tough times,” he said, “but they believed in each other. They listened to the feedback and adjusted things.

Slota said he was impressed with the group’s cohesion, resilience and determination to win.

“That’s exactly what Rutgers Business School should be known for,” he said.

Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business is named after David Tepper, at one time the wealthiest person in New Jersey before he left the state.

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