Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Valuable Experience at the 2014 NBMBAA Case Competition

Jeremy Harp '15
Every year a sizeable cohort of students from the University of Georgia’s MBA program attends the National Black MBA Association’s (NBMBAA) career expo and job fair. In parallel with the job fair, the NBMBAA also hosts a case competition. Each year Chrysler Group LLC develops a business case and tasks MBA students with deriving a solution. With a 3rd place price of $10,000, 2nd place prize of $15,000, and a grand prize of $25,000 to the winning team, participation in the case competition is sizeable and competition is fierce.

This past year’s conference afforded me the opportunity to participate in the NBMBAA case competition with three other MBAs from the full-time program: LaDrica Derrico, Bruce Taylor, and Nathan Navarro. Fortunately, the business case this year involved developing a marketing strategy for the Jeep Renegade, and I had significant experience in consumer insights having worked with Procter & Gamble this past summer. The Jeep Renegade will d├ębut in early 2015 and we were tasked with developing how to both position the car based on Jeep’s current lineup, make the car more appealing to millennials, and increase traffic to the website.

Teams are given just over a month to analyze the case and finalize a presentation in time for the competition in mid-September. Keeping in mind the large grand prize, our team meetings began soon after we were all on campus. The most challenging part of the competition was the meetings about halfway through, where each member had conflicting ideas for how best to move forward. The strong personalities and the desire to do well made for some interesting meetings during that time. Fortunately, the team was able to work together in such a way that we could both express our ideas as well as have those ideas challenged in a respectful and positive manner. After coming to a consensus on direction, the development of the presentation was remarkably simple. The initial round of the competition went very well for us as we were selected as one of the top 6 teams to advance to the final round. LaDrica’s Best Presenter award and the team being close to the $25,000 grand prize spurred further preparation and practice with the group. The final round went equally as well as the first, but we ultimately did not place in the top three.

Though 1/4th of $25,000 would have been a welcomed addition to my bank account, participating in the 2014 NBMBAA case competition was an amazing experience. The competition allowed me to be able to strategically apply the topics to which I had been introduced in my classes. Additionally, I learned more about teamwork and how working well with others is essential for success in business. Finally, I became closer with my teammates and understood that the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business was the best choice for my MBA. My experiences reminded me of just how smart, driven, and impressive all my classmates are. I am proud to be here and I am proud to have represented UGA well at the 2014 NBMBAA case competition.