For the second time in three years, Fisher College of Business took home first place in the sixth annual Human Resource Invitational Case Competition.

The competition drew students from premier master’s programs in human resources from throughout the United States, including Cornell, Illinois, Minnesota, Rutgers, Texas A&M, South Carolina and West Virginia.

The Fisher team consisted of Katie DeFusco, Kate Clausen, Jen Marchese and Collin Wear. DeFusco was named the winner of the Best Q&A.

As part of the live case, participants in the competition worked to solve a challenge facing PepsiCo, which sponsored the event for the third straight year. David Harris, vice president of HR for Frito-Lay, presented the challenge to the students: how to attract sales representatives to deliver products to stores while also encouraging these individuals to be a part of their local community and deepening their understanding of and relationships to their customers.

“Over my past two years in the Master of Human Resource Management program, I have learned in an academic setting about various topics in HR, but it's an entirely different and equally valuable learning experience to apply that knowledge to a real-world problem under real-world constraints,” DeFusco said. “The experience really tested our assumptions and challenged us to apply our knowledge effectively to add value for PepsiCo.”

Marc Ankerman, senior lecturer in the Department of Management and Human Resources, helped organize the competition, worked with PepsiCo representatives to craft the case and coached the Fisher team.

“With Professor Ankerman as our coach, Kate, Jen, Collin and I were pushed out of our individual and collective comfort zones,” DeFusco said. “We were challenged to think about presenting in a different way. We were challenged to be transparent and communicate with each other about our individual and group strengths and weaknesses. But spending the time focusing on practicing our presentation style and team-building paid off — we showed up to our recommendations presentation as a unified and cohesive team, and that enabled our success in the competition.”