Five members of the executive board of ALPFA FIU, a student organization in the College of Business at Florida International University (FIU), won the 2013 Johnson & Johnson (J&J) case competition, outperforming nine other teams at the national competition.
Adrian Cabrera, Marc Diaz, Martin Falconi, Jerome Lynch and Boris Mizrahi were selected by three judges at the university competition held at FIU on February 26th. They advanced to the annual event at J&J headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, taking first place on March 15th.
Rutgers Newark placed second and the University of Florida placed third. The other universities participating were Bucknell University, the University of Illinois, The College of New Jersey, Pennsylvania State University, Rider University, Rutgers New Brunswick and Seton Hall University.
“To have one of our FIU Business teams win this demanding national competition is a great accomplishment and I congratulate them, in addition to all the students who participated at FIU,” said David R. Klock, dean of the college. “Thanks also to the coaches and judges for providing guidance and inspiration—helping us fulfill our pledge to encourage excellence—and to Johnson & Johnson for providing this important educational opportunity.”
Case preparation requires strong analytical and presentation skills.
The case required teams to select an option for J&J to follow in acquiring a new prostate cancer drug: license, buy or continue to develop internally. The winning team built the business case around licensing the drug, then buying it in year five.
“We were very confident in our strategy,” said Cabrera, who along with Falconi developed the business plan, while Diaz and Mizrahi zeroed in on the financial analysis and Lynch focused on the presentation. The students spent about 20 hours working together, in addition to the efforts made by the three sub-teams, before presenting at FIU.
The judges at the university—Robert Hacker, an FIU adjunct professor, and two representatives from area J&J companies—agreed.
“The students were exceptional presenters and dealt with the case in a comprehensive way,” Hacker said. “The content showcased the kinds of decisions J&J faces all the time.”
Realism adds to value of case.
It was precisely that realism that Cabrera found most valuable.
“I liked the whole real-world experience, and the chance to apply academic theories to a real situation,” he said.
To hone the presentation, the team—one of five from FIU—sought input from Helen Simon, a faculty member in the Finance Department. She praised how well they had understood the financial aspects of the case, and offered techniques to maximize their use of their PowerPoint slides.
Red proves lucky.
Recognizing that subtle decisions can make a difference, Simon also suggested team members wear red ties. Co-incidentally, this is the color associated with the J&J brand.
“Not only did they win the competition at FIU and New Brunswick, but also one student lent another his red tie for a job interview, and that student was hired,” she said.
Melvin Brizuela (BBA ’12), a finance analyst with Cordis Corporation, a Johnson & Johnson Company, who had attended several case competitions while an undergraduate, coordinated the FIU event.