Photo courtesy of Indiana University.
Competing against teams from 14 other universities with top business programs, a group of four Krannert students won the Midwest Diversity Case Competition at Indiana University Jan. 19, 2013. “We had an opportunity to out-perform teams from universities that in some people’s minds are just flat-out better than Purdue. It was a true underdog story,” says Frank Pace, a sophomore majoring in accounting and management with concentrations in analytical consulting and finance.
Tony Denhart, Region Manager of University Relations for GE, was one of the judges at the competition. “The Purdue students had a unique idea, they had energy and they were able to present it. They did a great job putting the whole package together,” he says.
The day-long competition consisted of three rounds beginning at 9:45 a.m. for the Purdue team. “The first round was probably the most stressful for us,” Pace says. “We were going up against the champions from last year (Washington University of St. Louis) and the second place team (University of Chicago). We were pretty stressed out,” Pace says.
They gained confidence as one of two teams advancing to the second round, but by the third round at 4:30 p.m., “We were concerned again,” says Spencer Slaton, a junior majoring in management with concentrations in management information systems, analytical consulting and international business.
There were additional judges for the third and final round, it was videotaped and the large audience included company representatives and other participants. “In the middle of the room there was a big camera. There were photographers on the side and the oversized check (the grand prize) was right next to us. The atmosphere was nerve wracking,” Pace said.
But the Krannert team had prepared carefully. “Looking back on grinding on the case, one of the things we’ve been taught being BOP (Business Opportunity Program) students and as part of Krannert’s core curriculum is how to be analytical,” Pace says. “We were very, very analytical and very picky about the whole process. Everything was very detail oriented.”
Slaton adds, “Literally the day or so before the competition, we found a gaping hole in our case. Throughout the process we fixed everything. All the holes were taken care of.”
Elayna Dorsey, a sophomore in accounting and management with a concentration in finance, knew they had excellent work to present. “What we had to say was great, but we still had to say it in a way that would convince the judges.”
Marissa Lyles, a sophomore in accounting and management with a concentration in finance, wrote and presented parts of the executive summary to the judges. “She killed it,” Slaton says.
Although Pace characterizes the win as an underdog victory, Darren Henry wasn’t surprised to see the students he recruited to Krannert come back victorious. Henry, director of Diversity Initiatives at Krannert, says, “It clearly shows our students have superior analytical skills, and those analytical skills set them apart from students at other business schools.”
After winning the competition, the team took advantage of the opportunity to network with recruiters at the event. "We were trying to say, 'Hey, you should come and recruit at Purdue more often.' Hopefully competitions like this will help put Purdue on the map," Dorsey says.
The competition also included teams from the host school, Northwestern University, Case Western Reserve University, Miami University, Ohio State University, Michigan State University and the universities of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.