Case competition team creates solutions for 100-year old company.

Devising corporate strategies for taking a successful 100-year old company into its next decade was the task during the 2011 Intercollegiate Graduate Case Competition.

A five-member team of students from the International MBA program in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU) competed in the event held February 10-11, 2011 in Tampa.

Miguelangel Faria, Brittany Mercado, Blener Mayhew, Aishwarya Varadarajan and Jared Leichner

“Problem-based learning is an excellent teaching method to increase students’ ability to do critical thinking,” said Stephen Barnett, executive faculty director of MBA programs, who accompanied the students. “Our students showed excellence in preparation and performance.”

Upon arriving, the team was given the task of creating a 10-year plan for The Beck Group. The company, founded in 1912, offers complete real estate solutions including development, architecture and construction.

Miguelangel Faria, Jared Leichner, Blener Mayhew, Brittany Mercado and Aishwarya Varadarajan studied the company’s history and performance, and developed a detailed strategy for the next decade. Competing against teams from five other universities, the FIU students then presented their solutions to judges including executives from The Beck Group. The University of South Florida won the competition.

“Competing was an intensive time, during the work portion and the presentation itself, but it was without a doubt an incredibly valuable experience,” Mercado said.

Benefits start from the first moment of preparation.

“The team was selected from a group of 25 graduate students who expressed interest in the competition,” said Ellie Browner, retired director of graduate admissions in the Chapman Graduate School, who now helps with this annual event. “The students devoted months of preparation to be able to compete well.”

In addition to Barnett and Browner, students received coaching from Luis Casas, director, marketing, communications and recruiting; Eric Goldstein, presentations skills coach, Chapman Graduate programs; Sarah Perez, director, Executive and Professional MBA Programs; Bruce Seaton, Department of Marketing; and Clark Wheatley, School of Accounting.

“Competing was an enriching experience from the start, beginning on FIU’s campus as we worked with our great coaches,” Mercado said. “Throughout the preparation time, in particular, I increased my ability to read and understand data and learned quite a bit more about making effective presentations.”

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