External Case Competition

Disclaimer: If you haven’t checked out my previous blog post about the Fisher College of Business MHRM Internal Case Competition, it provides further detail about the format of the case competitions which I refer to in this post.

As a quick overview, the MHRM program hosts an internal and external case competition each year. For each of the competitions, students form teams to compete against one another to solve an HR-related business problem presented by a sponsoring organization.

The internal competition involves teams of first- and second-year MHRM students and the winners from this event are selected to participate in the external competition. The external competition is hosted by The Ohio State University and invites universities who also have well-recognized HR graduate programs to participate in this event on a larger scale.

The weekend began at the Blackwell Hotel where all the teams were introduced to one another and enjoyed a dinner sponsored by Marathon. The universities in attendance included the University of South Carolina, Texas A&M, University of Illinois, Cornell, Minnesota, Rutgers, and West Virginia University. After dinner, we continued to mingle with the other teams at the Varsity Club, a well-known bar near the university.

The following morning was the start of the competition and when we were given the case. This year’s business problem was presented by Eaton Corporation, a multinational power management company. Essentially, they were in search of a solution that would improve coaching within their organization of 98,000 employees.

This solution also needed to touch on functions such as recruitment, engagement, and retention. The case was definitely challenging due to the large scope of the issue and it needed to be applicable to all generations, skill sets, and demographics of employees.

In order to be prepared for the next day’s presentations, we created a timeline and checklist of items to be completed. We started with a silent 15-minute brainstorming session that allowed us to each come with ideas on our own before we discussed them as a team. From there, we wrote down our concerns and potential solutions on the whiteboard.

As we began to discuss solutions, we realized we could implement strategies from various classes we have taken such as talent management, leadership, and staffing.

Once our solution was narrowed down, we assigned specific parts of the solution to each team member and organized our presentation from there. It’s a long day and it can be easy to get caught up in the overload of work, so it’s important to schedule breaks to eat, stretch, and clear your mind along the way.

Early the next morning, the teams returned to present their solutions in front of a panel of Eaton and industry professionals. Each team had 20 minutes to explain their solution and answer questions. Many unique ideas were brought to the table but ultimately the University of South Carolina was recognized as having the best solution. After the competition, we celebrated our hard work over lunch and were able to have feedback sessions with the judges.

I was able to take what I learned from the first experience and apply new strategies this competition.

Having been part of the internal and external case competitions, I was able to take what I learned from the first experience and apply new strategies this competition, which reinforces the practical experience component that I believe is crucial within this program. Additionally, not only did I get to become further acquainted with my own classmates but  I also mad connections with students from other programs and HR professionals across many different industries. This has continued to be an important opportunity to me because the individuals I am networking with today are going to be the future HR business leaders of tomorrow.