Smith Students Win Wake Forest Undergraduate Case Challenge
The Babcock Graduate School of Management hosted the 19th Annual
Wake Forest MBA Marketing Summit from February 5-7. But it was Smith's undergraduates who took a starring
role, taking home first place at the Undergraduate Case Challenge. Mary Harms,
lecturer in marketing, was the faculty mentor for the team.
The winning team members were Molly Crossman (Junior - Marketing and International
Business), Chris Coraggio (Sophomore - Operations and Marketing), Tom Pacak (Sophomore
- Finance and Economics) and Vidya Sathyamoorthy (Sophomore - Finance and Marketing).
For coming in first, the team won a trophy and a check for $1000.
Although the Wake Forest Marketing Summit is an MBA competition, it added an
undergraduate segment five years ago. The top undergraduate marketing students
in the country are invited to compete in the Undergraduate Case Challenge. It is
described on Wake Forest's Web site as an "intense 36-hour competition to solve
a strategic marketing challenge faced by this year's sponsor, PepsiCo." The case
students were tasked with a challenge that revolved around a hypothetical company modeled after PepsiCo,
and its effort to maintain its leadership in environmentally sustainable packaging
across its beverage portfolio.
Competing teams participated in a two-phase challenge over the course of two
months. The first phase began last semester, as students were given a week to come
up with a five-page paper outlining their recommended solutions. From there, the top
six highest-scoring teams from the online preliminary round were invited to attend
the Marketing Summit over the weekend of February 5-7, 2009, and participate in
the Case Challenge finals. Other schools competing included the University of Pennsylvania,
Boston College, Brandeis University, Brigham Young University, and Wake Forest University.
In addition to the competition, all teams also had the opportunity to attend
an interview of Pepsi Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, conducted by Maria Bartiromo,
host of CNBC's "The Closing Bell."
Teams received the case on Thursday night, and then were given 36 hours to complete
it - a time period that ended Saturday at 7 a.m. The Maryland team found
the 36 hour time period grueling but exciting. They began working immediately, and
according to team members, they only slept for about two to three hours on Thursday night. Their
hard work resulted in a twenty-minute presentation to a panel of judges from PepsiCo,
as well as MBA students. They then had to wait for the Awards Gala on Saturday evening,
at which point they were announced as the winning team.
The team cannot disclose what its solution was because they had to sign a confidentiality
agreement. This indicates that PepsiCo may very well consider putting
their recommendations to use in some form, which may be the team's biggest accomplishment
"To say the competition was intense is an understatement. It was clear that the
other teams were very experienced and many were juniors and seniors. At the same
time, it was refreshing to see that the entire time everyone was comfortable and
friendly with each other, and we left the competition with five teams of new friends,"
Pete Baird, 2nd Year MBA Candidate, Smith Media Group