MSLOC-Kellogg Team Places in National Case Competition

MSLOC-Kellogg Team Places in National Case Competition

Bea La O'

Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC) students Andrea (Bea) La O’ and Kelsey Schalkle were members of the Northwestern team that scored big in one of the nation’s most prestigious case competitions. The Northwestern team placed third at the National MBA Human Capital Case Competition in Nashville.

Competing against teams selected from across the nation in the seventh annual competition at Vanderbilt University, the Northwestern team placed for the first time since 2007. Cornell came in first, University of Southern California second and Northwestern third. Corporate judges from GE and Deloitte Consulting, the sponsors of the competition, selected the winners.

Teams from top graduate schools competed in presenting solutions to a real-world human capital problem for a large international organization. At issue was a company attempting to adapt to a new business climate while building on the strengths of the organization. At the last minute, Deloitte/GE tossed in an additional twist, that the solution needed to address a new acquisition for the company.

The five Northwestern team members are students at SESP and Kellogg School of Management. In fact, the collaboration between the two programs proved to be a uniquely beneficial element of the experience.

Kelsey Schalkle

“It was such a treat to work together across our two programs!” says Schalke. “The Kellogg team brought great business smarts, particularly related to the financial metrics — a huge part of what the judges focused on. Bea and I, representing MSLOC, were able to bring perspectives on change management. And, true to MSLOC form, we used a team charter to kick off the entire process! I believe that was very helpful in setting expectations and creating shared goals, which led to our success.”

Each team received the case one week ahead of time for a presentation on October 24. Then the top three teams presented to the entire group on October 26. 

Both Schalkle and La O’ emphasize how their MSLOC experience prepared them for the competition. Schalkle especially appreciates 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.”

La O’ agrees that the teamwork in MSLOC was valuable for building the skills essential to the competition. “MSLOC has helped us build the skills to team well,” she notes.

La O’ viewed the competition as a chance to apply her course work to a challenging real-life business problem and “seal in the learning.” In addition, she appreciated the opportunity to learn from her Kellogg teammates and the people at the competition.

Schalkle agrees that the competition provided “multiple dimensions of value.” These included the opportunity to increase consulting skills, work with partners outside and program and network with industry leaders, she says.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 12/3/13