Graduate students tackle real problems, real solutions for Raymond James.

Financial services company Raymond James, like others in the industry, just weathered a tough year. So where does Raymond James turn for advice on how to move forward successfully in the wake of the financial crisis?

To savvy business graduate students from six Florida universities participating in the 2010 Intercollegiate Case Competition.

Competition provides learning experience.

Five students from programs in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU) traveled to Tampa to compete in this year’s case study competition, held February 11-13, 2010, and hosted by the University of South Florida. Other participating schools included Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, the University of Florida and the University of Miami.

From left to right: Leandro Wong, Femi Lewis, Laura Bacci, Samer Aziz and Jason Kleiss

“The case study competition provided a great opportunity to apply the knowledge we’ve gained from our graduate programs,” said Evening MBA student Femi Lewis. “The whole experience was a tremendous lesson in teamwork. The five of us had not worked together before. And while we did not win the competition, I believe, just participating gave us more confidence in our skills. We are ready to compete with MBA students not just in Florida but from anywhere in the world.”

International MBA students Samer Aziz, Laura Bacci and Jason Kleiss plus Master of Science in Finance student Leandro Wong rounded out the team. A committed champion of the Intercollegiate Case Competition, Ellie Browner (MS ’93, BBA ’79), retired, director graduate admissions, Chapman Graduate School, coordinated the college’s participation and accompanied the students to Tampa.

Preparation is key.

To get ready for the competition, the students met weekly under faculty guidance.

“We coached the students and provided feedback on their practice presentations,” said Clark Wheatley, School of Accounting. “We asked tough questions and provided honest criticisms.”

Wheatley describes the experience as “experiential learning at its best.” He says that the students were tasked with integrating all functional areas of their graduate training to address real business problems faced by Raymond James.

“Ideas, insights, evidence, communications—it was all there,” he said.

Additional coaching support came from Luis Casas, director, Marketing, Communications and Recruiting; Eric Goldstein, presentations skills coach, Chapman Graduate programs; Paola Moreno (MBA ’03), associate director, International Graduate Programs; Sarah Perez, director, Executive and Professional MBA Programs; and Bruce Seaton,  Department of Marketing.

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