MSLOC Students Earn Coveted Spot in National Human Capital Case Competition

Photo caption (from left): Swait Surupria and Amanda Dawson

Master of Science in Learning and Educational Change (MSLOC) students Amanda Dawson and Swati Surupria were selected for the 2012 National MBA Human Capital Case Competition as members of a Northwestern team. This team is composed of students from SESP and Kellogg School of Management, and Surupria, a veteran of the competition, is team leader.

Only 12 teams from across the nation were selected for the sixth annual competition, which will be held from October 18 to 20 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Teams from top graduate schools will compete against each other in presenting solutions to a real-world human capital issue relevant in today’s fast-paced global economy. Prizes will be awarded, with the first place team winning $10,000.

Team members were selected through a competitive process based on applications and resumes. These finalists were chosen because of their appreciation of human capital issues and depth of experience, according to competition organizers. In addition to Surupria and Dawson, other members of the Northwestern team are Kellogg students Nicole Christopoulos, Sonha Hoang and Ed Brenninkmeyer.

Surupria  and Dawson relish the learning and growth opportunity that this experience provides. “Interacting with students from other schools is valuable exposure,” says Surupria. “I’m excited about the opportunity to work on a diverse team and get feedback from practitioners,” says Dawson. Northwestern’s team is composed of members with different back ethnic and work backgrounds, and this diversity creates “a greater level of awareness,” according to Surupria.

In advance of the competition, the Northwestern team is meeting regularly to learn how to adjust to working effectively together. “We can avoid certain types of conflict by getting processes in place,” says Surupria. Pressure builds one week before the event when teams receive their case for the competition. After initial presentations on October 19, the top three teams present to the entire group on October 20. 

Both Dawson and Surupria credit the MSLOC program with providing outstanding preparation for the competition. “MSLOC equips you with a toolkit to draw on in given situations,” says Surupria. Dawson points out that the curriculum provides good background on designing change, especially in “getting to the root cause of a problem.” In addition, the program excels at helping students learn to respect individual differences and “becoming more aware of their own strengths,” says Surupria.

Dawson has a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications and work experience at a public relations and marketing firm, where she was on the leadership team. One reason Dawson enrolled in the MSLOC program was to develop her understanding of how to lead people through the process of organizational change. She intends to pursue a career in human capital consulting.

Surupria, who is from India, has an MBA in human resources and worked for a consulting firm for three years. She enrolled in the MSLOC program to round out her education and learn more about how the human psyche plays out in an organizational context, she says. She too plans to pursue a career in the field of human capital consulting.

The National MBA Human Capital Case Competition is funded by GE and Deloitte Consulting. Teams will present their solutions to a team of corporate judges from GE and Deloitte.

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