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A case to compete

Having competed in five different case competitions as an MBA student at Purdue, Philip Lu (BSM '08, MBA '11) understood the benefits they provided students and wanted to share that experience with others.

Lu, a consultant with West Monroe Partners, advocated the benefits a case competition would have and worked to plan and sponsor the contest at Purdue in April. The competition attracted 54 undergraduate and graduate students from four different schools on campus.

"The competition was a great experience for the students, but it was also a huge opportunity for West Monroe Partners," says Lu, who was a member of three winning case teams during his collegiate career. "The theme of 'Technology Transformation' really played well to demonstrate the type of projects we like to do."

"Hosting a competition like this helps build our image as an innovative company and allows us to connect with top students through a different medium than the traditional job fair. It allows us to give students critical feedback from an industry prospective. In addition, we also benefit by obtaining a fresh perspective on the work we do every day."

Ten teams advanced to a first round of oral presentations, and the list was narrowed to five for the final round. Lu and two colleagues from West Monroe Partners, Cory Chaplin, director of the Technology Integration Practice, and Joel Graves, senior consultant in the Banking Practice, served as judges for the final round.

The winning team consisted of Karan Ahuja, who earned undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and management; Matt Bartlett, a 3+2 student earning both his undergraduate and MBA; Hassan Faraj, a second-year MBA; and Kent Van Horn, a senior in management. The Society of Minority Managers took a very close second. Team members were Frank Pace, Elayna Dorsey, Bukky Adesanya and Marissa Lyles.

"Case competitions have allowed me to effectively apply what I have learned in the classroom in a dynamic way," says Faraj, who has accepted a position with Procter & Gamble. "I've been fortunate to work with some of the best Krannert has to offer and learn about the thought process they use to tackle real problems."

"Ultimately, it's the best replica of real-world experience. Presenting in front of large groups and company representatives has improved my confidence in my communication skills as I enter into my professional career."

Lu has worked on a variety of projects ranging from supply chain optimization initiatives for large global retailers to systems integration with smart grid technology. He frequently calls on the skills gained through competitions like these.

"Case competitions break down silos to bring together students, professionals and faculty to tackle some of today's most challenging problems," he says. "Everyone learns from each other, and has a great time in the process."