Case Study Competition Draws Rave Reviews

by Betsy Knott

December 8, 2008

Problem: How to prepare Wabash students for the intense interviews they’ll face in the job search process, and particularly in working through case studies. Solution: A case study competition with a friendly GLCA college.

The staff of the Schroeder Center of Career Development at Wabash has discovered that Wabash men need some help preparing for case studies they’re asked to develop during job interviews. Assistant Director Betsy Knott and Director Scott Crawford got together with Wabash alumni who work with Deloitte Consulting to develop a case study competition to hone the skills the Little Giants.

Betsy Knott described how the idea began and how it ended with applause and enthusiasm last Saturday night when the first "Wabamazoo Case Study Competition" took place. Here's what Betsy told us:

"Last fall (Fall 2007), after several discussions with Wabash alumni who work at Deloitte, we realized we were lacking in preparing our students for the case study interview many of them would face throughout the interview process. After a lot of conversations, we started narrowing the focus to a competition of sorts — very similar to that of the Moot Court Competition — to engage our students through this process.

"After a lot of research this summer and manye conversations with our alumni (Brian Flanigan, Gary Campbell, Steven Mewborn, Marty Brown, Jon Haug), the original proposal for a case study competition was developed. We shopped the idea around to other Great Lakes Colleges Association schools and Kalamazoo grabbed on. Having just created a business major, the Kalamazoo career services office, led by Lori Young, wanted something new to spark some interest.

"Thus, the Wabamazoo Case Study Competition was created.

"Three weeks ago, we had a selection night when teams competed for two spots in the finals against Kalamazoo. The students were given a case, five days, and asked to prepare a 10-minute presentation on their solution. We put them in front of three alumni (Herm Haffner ’77, Hugh Vandivier ’91, and Dave Knott ’69) and those three were tasked with picking the best two teams to advance to Saturday’s competition. A lot of learning took place that night as we continued to prepare for the big event with Kalamazoo.

"On Saturday, December 6 the first Wabamazoo Case Study Competition took place and with an enormous amount of success. The students were given the case the night before, and were provided with three additional hours of prep time, a laptop to create their deliverable, and a quiet room on campus to prepare for their presentation. Each team comprising four students had 15 minutes to present their solution, and took on another 10-15 minutes of questions from the six-member judging panel.

"Our judging panel was quite impressive: Dennis McCarthy ’74, a Kalamazoo graduate and President of Paradigm Group, Fairfield, CT; Herm Haffner ’77; Professor of Economics Frank Howland; attorney Jon Pactor ’71;  Jason Stanfield, a PhD Accounting student at Krannert School of Business; and Jeremy Trennepohl – Account Manager, All-Phase Electric

"The best part of the day was when the judging panel sat down in front of the teams (mind you, they made their presentation in the expansive Goodrich Room in the library), and gave them all phenomenal feedback about their solutions, their presentations, their analysis, and their composure throughout the day.

"The judges singled out each team and commented on what they did well, what they need to work on, and what all of the groups should be able to take away from this experience.

"Jason Stanfield, our judge from the Krannert School of Business, observed that each of the teams could have held their own against several of his MBA students, and they should be proud of the critical thinking skills they have developed as undergraduates.

"The 16 students who participated in this event — eight from Wabash and eight from Kalamazoo — walked away with an enormous experience that will only benefit their career development.

"And, it didn’t hurt that a Wabash team comprised of Krzysztof Wojciechowski ’09, Derek Lough ’09, John Holmes ’09, and Stanley Xu ’10 won the trophy!

"The other Wabash team included Filip Lempa ’10, Grant Gussman ’08 (December graduate), Michael Opieczonek ’09, Steve Henke ‘12

"Lastly, as if things couldn’t get any better, Scott and I brought up the idea of a GLCA Case Competition at our GLCA Career Services Conference last week, and the response was universally positive. Each and every school indicated they are interested in participating!

"Our next steps will be creating a formal proposal, gathering the teams, and determining logistics. It was agreed that we will hold the competition in the spring, so competitors will be ready for fall interviews. We are also looking into national competitions, so we can send the winners of our GLCA competition on for greater learning and exposure."


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