It had been awhile — 13 years to be exact — since Fisher College of Business last claimed the top spot in the KeyBank Minority MBA Case Competition. In that span, teams from Fisher placed no better than third in the annual event that draws teams from colleges and universities across the country.

But for Fisher’s Tomilola Abiodun, Yasmin Jimenez and Isaiah Stephenson, the past wasn’t going to be an indicator of their present. The team of MBA students, coached by Fisher’s Marc Ankerman, captured first place at the event, topping representatives from 25 other schools.

“I’m elated to be part of the team that won the competition this year,” said Abiodun, a first-year MBA student. “It is a giant stride for me as this is my first external case competition and we got first place. I wasn’t under so much pressure to perform, but I knew I wanted us to make a great impact and I wanted to learn a whole lot.

“However close to the end of the preparation, when I discovered Fisher hadn’t won this in more than 10 years, I felt the need for us to be at our best and perform great to do Fisher proud.”

The University of Alabama finished second, Case Western Reserve University was third, Indiana University was fourth, and Purdue University was fifth.

“I was so excited when it was announced we had won,” Abiodun said. “I had silently prayed for God to give me good news in the month of February, and this was the best news ever. As a young professional from Nigeria, being on a team that wins the KeyBank Case Competition is a really big deal for me.”

Conducted yearly since 2005 and in partnership with KeyBank, the Minority Case Competition provides students from across the country with the opportunity to hone their business acumen and team-building skills while learning from KeyBank’s most senior executives. More than 860 MBA and graduate students from 73 schools have competed in the annual event, held in Cleveland.

2018 KeyBank Minority Case Competition speakers
Margot James Copeland, director of philanthropy and civic engagement, executive vice president of KeyCorp, and the chair and CEO of KeyBank Foundation, and Dennis Devine, co-president of Key Community Bank, participate in a discussion at the KeyBank Minority Case Competition.

“The KeyBank Minority Case Competition continues to be a shining example of the positive power of partnerships between Fisher College of Business and leading companies such as KeyBank,” said David Harrison, senior director of Fisher’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion Student Services. “Every year I am wholly impressed with both the sponsorship support this event receives from KeyBank as well as the high caliber of students that are selected to participate in this rigorous competition. KeyBank was very impressed with this year’s participating teams. The level of competitiveness was tremendous. In fact, at the final awards banquet, KeyBank surprised everyone announced that it was increasing the total award amounts from in each winning category, as follows: first place from $7,000 to $10,000; second place from $5,000 to $7,500; third place from $3,000 to $5,000; fourth place from $1,500 to $3,000; and fifth place from $500 to $1,000. The Best Presenter and Best Q&A Winning award amounts increased this year, from $250 per person to $500 per person. In summary, KeyBank increased the overall winnings by $11,500, from $20,000 to $31,500.”

“I want to thank KeyBank and the KeyBank Foundation for their ongoing support of business education and diversity and inclusion initiatives at Fisher College of Business as well as their investment in the futures of so many of tomorrow’s leaders. We are truly grateful for KeyBank’s generous contributions over the past 14 years, and we look forward to our ongoing partnership.”