UT MBA Team Places Second in National Case Competition

 

Students from UT Knoxville receive their second-place award during the National Black MBA Association Case Competition, sponsored by the Chrysler Foundation, Chrysler LLC and Chrysler Financial. Pictured, left to right, are Kim Harris Jones, senior vice president, corporate controller and auditor, Chrysler LLC; Barbara Thomas, president and CEO, National Black MBA Association; UT students James Walker, Martin Vargas and Alicia Cottrell; Frank Fountain, senior vice president, external affairs and public policy and president, Chrysler Foundation.

 

The full-time MBA team representing the University of Tennessee’s College of Business Administration placed second at the National Black MBA Association Case Competition in Washington, D.C., in September, beating out 28 other teams. The contest, sponsored annually by Chrysler, is one of the most prestigious case competitions for MBA students.

The UT team of full-time MBA students — Alicia Cottrell, Martin Vargas and James Walker — co-coached by Associate Professor of Marketing Dick Reizenstein and Assistant Professor of Logistics Terry Esper, won a total of $12,000 in scholarship monies for their second-place finish.

All three students will graduate in December 2008.

"We are very proud of our exceptional team," Reizenstein said. "Alicia, Martin and James were prepared, professional, extraordinarily articulate, and the achievement is overwhelmingly theirs."

The team had four weeks to prepare a market-entry strategy into India for Chrysler after being e-mailed the case. Each team had 20 minutes to present its strategy, followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer session with two different panels of judges. Five teams were selected from five flights of teams in the first round; these five competed for the top honors in the finals.

"It was an intense and rich experience. The pressure of presenting to Chrysler executives forced our team to create a recommendation that was realistic, profitable, but most of all, something we all believed in," said Cottrell, who is graduating both with her MBA and JD degrees. "We believe that our success is directly attributable to the encouragement and feedback of our coaches, faculty members and executives who support the college and the program, as well as to our fellow students."

Vargas agreed: "UT has provided us with access to tremendous learning opportunities, such as this competition, and has prepared us for success by allowing us to apply coursework learning to real-world situations."

Other faculty who spent a great deal of time helping to prepare the team included Mike Ehrhardt, professor of finance; Linda Lyle, lecturer in management; and Marcel Zondag, doctoral candidate in marketing who had spent a number of years in global business, including in India.

"The UT MBA team did a fabulous job," said Kevin McCormick, manager, human resources and diversity communications for Chrysler. "I was there to watch their stellar performance, and I could see the confidence that the team had in their analysis and presentation. I am proud that Chrysler has sponsored this competition for 14 years. I am more proud, however, of being an alum of UT’s full-time MBA program."

Florida A & M University placed first; the University of Texas at Austin came in third. Other teams in the competition included Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Indiana University, MIT, University of North Carolina, NYU, Ohio State, Penn State and Vanderbilt.

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