For Alex Beutel, success means learning how to be comfortable when the problem you’re facing has you feeling very uncomfortable.

It was a lesson that Beutel and a team of students from Fisher’s Full-Time MBA program quickly learned at the Illinois Gies College of Business MBA Strategy Case Competition.

“Case competitions and other experiential learning opportunities at Fisher push me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Beutel said. “Getting a business problem, analyzing it, presenting it to dozens of people and defending it all within 24 hours is stressful. However, I know I’ll be more confident going into my internship and full-time role knowing that I’ve successfully applied the concepts we learn in class at such a high level.”

Fisher took first place among 14 teams at the annual event, which was judged by representatives from some of the top companies in the United States, and Gies faculty, staff and alumni.

Beutel joined fellow first-year MBA students Sandra Glaude and Thomas Sinard, along with second-year MBA student Cara Laviola, in winning the competition. Beutel also earned honors for Best Q&A. The team was coached by Marc Ankerman, senior lecturer in the Department of Management and Human Resources.

2019 Univ. of Illinois Case Competition
Senior Lecturer Marc Ankerman, Alex Beutel, Thomas Sinard, Dean Anil Makhija, Sandra Glaude and Cara Laviola celebrate the MBA team's first-place finish at the Illinois Gies College of Business MBA Strategy Case Competition.

“This was easily the most efficient and one of the hardest-working teams I have ever had the privilege of being a part of,” Sinard said. “Within the first hour, we had picked up a tank-engine-like momentum that persisted from 10 a.m. through 2 a.m. the next morning, before we eventually had to leave the work space. It was clear that each person was driven to give everything they had, in their own unique skill set.

“Cara’s fantastic leadership and ability to manage the team helped us stay on task and be as efficient as we were. And Professor Ankerman's coaching prior to the competition, and emotional support during, helped us edge out some very tough competition. The judges loved his unique approach to presenting, and I plan on applying his style whenever possible in my future career.”

“As a strategy case competition, this event was the perfect opportunity to put into action the strategic training we've learned in the classroom. It was also a great way to display our training in a succinct, engaging and thought-provoking presentation.”

Cara LaviolaSecond-year MBA student

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