Case competition provides forum for graduate students’ innovative thinking.

Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen is known for serving up delicious New Orleans Cajun-style fried chicken. But when it comes to developing a winning business strategy for meeting company growth goals, Popeye’s was in a bit of a pickle. So its marketing team brought its challenges to the recent 2012 Intercollegiate Case Competition held February 9-12, 2012, in Tampa, Florida.

College of Business Administration graduate students from five different programs represented Florida International University (FIU) in the competition: Jamal Abdel Jabbar, Master of Science in Finance; Yadira Maldonado, Executive MBA; Connie Marianacci, Master of International Business; Victor Pastor, Corporate MBA; and Melanie Raimo, International MBA. Other teams hailed from Florida State, University of Miami, University of Florida and The University of South Florida, which hosted and won the event.

FIU case competitors Victor Pastor, Jamal Abdel Jabbar, Melanie Raimo, Yadira Maldonado and Connie Marianacci with the judges
FIU case competitors Victor Pastor, Jamal Abdel Jabbar, Melanie Raimo, Yadira Maldonado and Connie Marianacci with the judges

“The fact that each team member brought unique business skills to this challenge strengthened our presentation,” Marianacci said.

With less than 24 hours to prepare, FIU team proves its mettle.

 The teams first met with the Popeye’s team, then the clock started ticking—with the participants set to present their analysis and recommendations the next day.

Marianacci believes that the key to success for any team in this kind of situation is time management.

“We had never worked together before but we had to quickly build our case then prepare and practice our presentation,” she said. “We got very positive feedback on our presentation and recognition for our innovative idea to install touch-screen kiosks at Popeye’s drive-through order locations to trigger increased order speed and accuracy, decrease costs and boost additional side orders via automated prompts.”

FIU celebrates milestone as competition charter member.

The 2012 Intercollegiate Case Competition marked the event’s 10th anniversary; FIU has actively participated every time.

Several college faculty members once again devoted their time and talents to select and coach the team. Miami-area representatives from Telemundo International-NBC Universal, Sony and Visa Latin America also helped the team members fine-tune their skills. Jose Rocha, Marketing Department, and Ellie Browner (MS ’93, BBA ’79), retired director of graduate admissions worked together to coordinate the competition. Rocha accompanied the students to Tampa.

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