MSLOC Students Compete in National Case Competition

MSLOC Students Compete in National Case Competition

CASEImagine that you and your consulting team have been given less than a week to help a fast casual pizza chain triple its growth in a year and expand internationally. At the same time, you’re charged with preserving the company’s unique culture.

This was the challenge facing graduate students from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) and the Kellogg School of Management, who recently participated in the 2016 National MBA Human Capital Case Competition in Nashville, Tenn.

Working around the clock -- and somehow fitting in school work and family life -- the team figured out a way to save $1 to $2 million in their first year of growth by retaining and developing their human capital.

“(The competition) is more fun than school because it feels a little more like the real world,” said SESP’s Thrya Nast, who is pursuing her master’s degree in learning and organizational change (MSLOC.) “They make you feel like you’re actually a consultant.”

In addition to Nast, Northwestern’s team included SESP’s Michael Schiro, who is also getting his master’s in learning and organizational change, and Kellogg School of Management students Courtney Washington, Katherine Peterson and Priva Suresh.

Only ten teams from across the nation were selected for the elite annual competition, which was held in early October at Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management.

Sponsored by Deloitte, the competition brings together teams from top MBA/Masters programs around the country. The teams were given only a few days to analyze the pizza company’s future.

Once in Nashville, they were judged on team dynamics and their 20-minute presentation to a panel of judges, who played the roles of the pizza chain’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer.

The University of Southern California won the overall competition, followed by Cornell and UCLA. Northwestern didn’t advance to the finals, but the team was happy with the overall experience.

 “The challenge and exciting part was getting the different perspectives from the team,” said Schiro, the team lead in his first competition.

 “We had people with five years consulting experience, one person who had worked abroad, and another with an education industry background.  As team lead, I tried to bring people together and leverage our diverse experiences.”

 Schiro said one of the team’s strengths was its cohesion. The judges’ feedback noted that the team seemed harmonious even under competition stress.

 “I liked having the opportunity to work with Kellogg and those interested in human capital,” Nast said. “Some team members had consulting experience and some had a more quantitative background. We brought complementary elements to the team."

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 11/8/16