Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC) students Andrea (Bea) La O’ and Kelsey Schalkle have already scored an impressive win by being selected for one of the nation’s most prestigious case competitions. They will compete as members of a Northwestern team at the National MBA Human Capital Case Competition in Nashville from October 24 to 26.
The Northwestern team is one of only 12 teams from across the nation chosen for the seventh annual competition at Vanderbilt University. The team is composed of students from SESP and Kellogg School of Management.
At the case competition, teams from top graduate schools compete in presenting solutions to a real-world human capital issue relevant to today’s fast-paced global marketplace. The first-place team wins $10,000.
The Northwestern team was selected through a competitive process based on applications and resumes. Finalists were chosen because of their appreciation of human capital issues and depth of experience, according to competition organizers.
Case competitions offer an opportunity for learning and growth for MSLOC students. Schalkle says, “This competition has multiple dimensions of value — we get the opportunity to sharpen our consulting tool-kit, work with partners outside of our MSLOC program, and network with leaders in the industry.”
“The Human Capital Case Competition is a great way to round out my MSLOC experience,” says La O’. She relishes the chance to apply her course work to a challenging real-life business problem and “seal in the learning.” In addition, she looks forward to learning from her Kellogg teammates and the people at the competition. “I will learn so much from the wisdom and different perspectives they bring,” she says.
Each team receives the case one week ahead of time and collaborates on a presentation for October 24. Then the top three teams present to the entire group on October 26.
The Northwestern team is preparing intensely because of the quick turnaround time. “Our team is preparing by each taking an active leadership role, owning content and acting as subject matter experts. And, most importantly, we are taking it all with a (heaping) grain of salt and having fun!” says Schalkle.
Both Schalkle and La O’ emphasize how MSLOC has readied them for the competition. Schalkle sees the value of class content in areas like change management, rewards systems, and organizational culture. She adds, “Going beyond content, some of the most beneficial elements from MSLOC have been the way we structure group meetings and problem solving. I think things like using a team charter help set us up for success!”
La O’ too says the teamwork in MSLOC has been valuable for building the skills essential to the competition. “MSLOC has helped us build the skills to team well — this is foundational for the work we will do — it's a lot to tackle for five strangers in less than a week,” she notes. “As we've begun to organize as a team, I keep reflecting on my MSLOC team experiences and Gail Berger's class — we did a team charter! Second, I think the change principles we've learned in all the classes, from Designing Sustainable Strategic Change to Executing Strategic Change, will be extremely essential as we approach the case.”
For the second time in two years, MSLOC is sending students to the competition. Last year, Swati Surupria (MS12) and Amanda Dawson (MS12) were selected for the Northwestern team chosen to compete.
The National MBA Human Capital Case Competition is sponsored by GE and Deloitte Consulting. Teams present their solutions to a team of corporate judges from GE and Deloitte.