Michigan Ross MBA Students Take Home $10,000 Prize and Much More from the National Black MBA Case Competition
A team of four Full-Time MBA students at the Ross School of Business received a $10,000 check for placing third in the 2021 National Black MBA Case Competition; however, the cash prize was only part of what the students were able to take away from the competition.
Each year, the graduate chapter of the Michigan Ross Black Business Student Association sponsors a team to compete against students from other top business schools at the NBMBAA Case Competition. The competition challenges students to act as consulting teams to analyze a complex business case and present their findings before a panel of Fortune 500 executives.
This year, the Michigan Ross team - Yasmin Abdulhadi, MBA ’23; Sam Bakare Korodo, MBA ’23; Evan Hollins, MBA ’22; and Markyth Smith, MBA ’22 - were challenged to create a marketing strategy for two new luxury vehicle brands: the Jeep Wagoneer and Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The prompt asked the MBAs to create a customer segmentation strategy, advertising strategy, and customer engagement strategy to help the Wagoneer brand best penetrate the market.
“We had to decide on how we would respond to the question of how we would market the vehicles to achieve number one market share in the premium large and large SUV market, but then we went further, and put it into a story by developing narratives of customers for each brand,” said Hollins. “We consulted with Michigan Ross faculty, other students who’ve competed in case competitions, and auto industry marketers to get feedback and refine our story.”
By receiving feedback from marketing experts like Michigan Ross Professors Chantel Lenard and Marcus Collins, the team defined their two customer personas as well as put together their award-winning presentation, which they refined again after receiving feedback from the industry judges in the first round.
“The presentations were the most fun part of the competition,” said Hollins, who received an individual award for best Q&A responder in his group during the first round. “We split the first presentation between three team members, and were prepared to answer questions that we had not addressed in our presentation around finance. Then in the second round we handled branding and broader strategy questions well, and it really came down to how actionable our ideas were.”
For their efforts, the Michigan Ross MBA team was awarded third place and the $10,000 prize, a portion of which they are planning to give back to BBSA to help support future teams to compete in the case competition.
“We really believe in the importance of maintaining the community pipeline so future cohorts of BBSA students can pursue the same opportunities as we have been able to,” said Smith.
Larger takeaways from the competition
Beyond their award, all the MBA students said they were able to take away valuable insights and further develop their skills as marketers and presenters through participating in the competition.
“What I learned is the power of teamwork and that through collaboration you can do more as a team than by yourself,” said Bakare Korodo. “I think this is my biggest takeaway because working in teams is how things are done at Ross, and this knowledge will help me be a better team member going forward.”
Since he plans to go into management consulting after graduation, Bakare Korodo said he also benefited from working on a specific client deliverable and going through the iteration process to create their presentation.
“We thought we had a direction two weeks in, but then changed to fine-tune it to make it better and figure out how we could take it to the next level,” he said. “In consulting, I will use this knowledge because there will be many iterations that you will use for your client.”
Learning from their peers
Beyond learning from the competition itself, members of the Michigan Ross MBA team were also able to learn from each other.
“I decided to participate in the case competition because it was an opportunity to take risks and work with individuals I didn’t know,” said Abdulhadi. “I struggled with the PowerPoint aspect of our presentation and how to make the slides look nice, so I leaned on other individuals for help and to learn and grow more broadly.”
As it turns out, Smith said being able to mentor first-year MBA students in the BBSA community was one of the reasons he signed up for the competition.
“I’m really excited about the MBA1s at Michigan Ross and in the BBSA community,” he said. “Here at Ross and prior, I have had a large degree of mentorship. I wanted to try and give back to first-year students and add value to their MBA1 experience, and I hoped they could learn from me, and that the competition would add to my memory bank. And, it did - I had a great time overall.”