Case competition benefits Disney and College of Business Administration team.

Say “Disney” and listeners might recall their childhood absorption in cartoons, or agitating for a trip to Disney World or Disneyland. However, for five members of the College of Business Administration’s Professional MBA (PMBA) program, the word meant something far more serious. Over an intense weekend, they had to devise strategic business recommendations for Walt Disney World Co., noting ethical considerations, and then present their proposals to seven individuals, including four from Disney itself, at the 2008 Intercollegiate Case Competition, hosted by the University of South Florida in Tampa.

College’s team, from left:  Marvin Rivas, Oscar Fajardo, Ger Kamminga, Nalene Rampersaud, and Otis Croney

Well before the competition, which ran from February 21-23, 2008, the team—Otis Croney, Oscar Fajardo, Ger Kamminga, Nalene Rampersaud, and Marvin Rivas (BBA ’06)—practiced using cases from previous years. Three members of the winning 2007 team offered suggestions in person; a fourth, no longer in the area, sent encouragement and tips by email.

Ellie Browner (MS ’93, BBA ’79) assistant director, employer services, Career Management Services, was the driving force behind the college’s participation, as she has been for all five prior years.

Everyone emerges a winner.

College’s team with competition judges

Though a group from the University of Florida won the competition this year, members of the college’s team felt they were winners, too.

“To have to work as a group, analyze a situation, and propose a strategy under severe time pressures is a real-world experience not many people will have during their MBA studies,” said Kamminga, complaint handling manager, Cordis Corporation, a Johnson & Johnson company. “Presenting the results to management representatives of multinational companies and receiving direct feedback is another learning experience no presentation workshop will provide. And, the opportunity to network, meet other MBAs, and represent your university creates a great opportunity for professional and personal growth.”

“It defines how you work in teams and tests your ability to create and produce an idea that can be presented to the top management of companies,” said Rampersaud, banking center manager, Bank of America. “By the end of the weekend, it proves to be adrenaline-fueled experience that drives people to do their best to represent themselves and their university.”

Many staff and faculty members provided support during the team’s  preparation. James Bussey (MBA ’99), chief of staff, Executive Dean’s Office, helped the team polish their presentation.

“They were already good when we started the session, so we focused on things that are often invisible to the presenters—consistent handoffs, voice projection, appropriate gestures and movement, and the air of confidence,” he said. “As they repeated their presentation, the more integrated, consistent, and compelling it was.”

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