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Purdue engineering student teams with Krannert undergrads for national case competition

Monday, February 25, 2019

Team D.B.C.

 

Imagine you’re a member of a consulting team given only 24 hours to develop and present a comprehensive case to help an automotive manufacturer bring a fully self-driving car to market. Could you do what’s needed to take such a giant leap?

That was the challenge faced by 15 teams of Purdue University students who participated in the preliminary, university-wide round of the Deloitte Consulting National Undergraduate Case Competition held Feb. 6-8 on the West Lafayette campus.

The winning Purdue team was composed of three sophomores from the Krannert School of Management and another Class of 2021 student from the College of Engineering: Trystan Manning, an economics major; Justin Sterlin, a double major in finance and supply chain, information and analytics; Ariana Loor, a general management major with a focus in human resource management; and Camille Nau, an industrial engineering major.

With their victory in the Purdue competition, the team advanced to the national finals on March 7-9 at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas, where they’ll face off against the winning teams from 17 other top universities including Boston College, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, IU, Northwestern, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt.

“What’s most interesting is the students didn’t know each other beforehand,” says Wendy Dukes (BSM ’95), director of corporate stewardship and alumni engagement in the Krannert Professional Development Center (KPDC). “Although I regularly visit with Justin, Trystan and Ariana for individual coaching, they’d never met personally.”

 

Coincidentally, Nau was actually the first student to join the team. After connecting with Dukes through another Krannert alum, Tarrus Richardson (BS ACCT ’91), CEO of IMB Development Corp. and a 2018 Purdue Old Master, Nau made her way to the KPDC office in Rawls Hall for a formal meeting.

“I decided to participate because I wanted to make sure I was exposing myself to different career paths,” says Nau. “I have always had an interest in consulting, and I thought the best way to pursue it was to gain experience in a case competition.”

As she and Dukes discussed forming a team for the preliminary Deloitte competition, Sterlin happened by to say hello and immediately agreed to join the effort. Dukes then reached out to Manning and Loor, and within a few days the winning combination took shape. “After giving them a brief overview of the expectations and facilitating introductions, they were on their own,” she says.

“We decided to names ourselves Team D.B.C. (Driven by Culture) because we all have different majors, come from different ethnic backgrounds, and live out of state,” says Nau, a native of Virginia. Loor, who has dual citizenship in Ecuador and the U.S., came to Purdue as an international student from Peru, while Manning and Sterlin hail from Florida and California, respectively.

“Besides meeting more non-engineers, I loved learning about each of my teammates,” Nau says. “It was amazing how well we clicked as a group and came together to share our passions for learning and solving problems.”

Loor says the group’s unique synergy was a key to victory.

“Having the opportunity to work with such a diverse team allowed us to analyze the case from four different perspectives,” she says. “We collaborated with one other to bring out the best of our contrasting ideas.”

“It felt as if we were constantly bouncing off each other because everyone had something new to add to what the last person said,” Manning adds. “It wasn't only our ideas that were different, but also the way we thought. It was interesting to see how our different areas of study impacted the final project.”

In addition to complementary personalities and diversity, Dukes says the teammates share a similar work ethic. “They are not the type of students who sit back and wait for an opportunity to land in their lap,” she says. “They are driven to go above and beyond in any situation. They know what it means to lead and what it means to be a team player.”

The students also share a confident and competitive attitude, Dukes adds. “When they first got together as a team, they emailed me and said, ‘We’re going to win!’ And they did.”

As with any case competition, of course, there are always anxious moments during “crunch time” as the team prepares its final presentation for the judges.

“Putting together a comprehensive presentation in just 24 hours was definitely a stressful, but having a team so committed to the project greatly lessened that stress,” Manning says. “We devoted our entire day to the competition so we could create the best possible solution for the case.”

Time management was equally important. “As soon as we were handed the case, we decided to read it once and then get a good night’s sleep so we could be productive the next day,” Loor says. “It wasn't overwhelming because we were so well organized. That allowed us to take breaks and come back to wherever we had left off.”

Although Dukes may describe her contributions as modest, the team is quick to credit her for ongoing guidance and support. “She provided us with great resources on where to gain information about how case competitions work and where to start with them,” Manning says.

Dukes also helped the undergrads connect with Edgar Kennebrew, a second-year MBA student and seasoned case competitor who continues to provide mentorship as they prepare for the national event.

“It was a great bonding experience, but we’re not finished yet.” Nau says. “I can’t wait to see how we’ll do next month in Texas at the finals.”