2nd Year Smith MBA’s Shine at Hitachi Foundation’s
Pioneer Employers Case Competition
Smith MBAs Fernanda Lopez, Lacey Nguyen, and Stephen Huie won first prize in
the Hitachi Pioneer Employer Curriculum Change Competition and Second Prize in
the Hitachi Pioneer Employer Case Competition. The Smith team reached the final
round, held at the 2011 Net Impact Conference in Portland, OR, in late October,
after passing the first rounds last spring. The competition involved a case
competition and curriculum change component, both focusing on the strategic
human capital management of low-wage workers at the bottom of the ladder.
The Smith team was recognized for having the most solid integration of
Pioneer Employer cases focusing on low wage workers into a school’s curriculum.
In the case competition, judges were impressed by how effective the team members
were at communicating their points, both written and verbally.
Through the competition the team was able to take a step back from the
intensity of the MBA program and learn more about how courses are structured and
the modules used to teach new concepts. To develop and implement their
curriculum change proposals, Lopez, Nguyen, and Huie worked closely with Dean
Hugh Courtney, faculty from the M&O and DOIT departments at Smith, and faculty
research centers, including the Center for International Business Education and
Research (CIBER), the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change (CLIC), and
the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC).
The competition was a great way for the team to apply the skills they
developed in the core curriculum at Smith. “Through this human capital case we
were able to apply what we had learned in our core Leadership and Teamwork
course, but equally importantly was our ability to quantify the argument for
investing in low-wage workers by applying our analytical skills,” Huie said.
Other participating schools in the competition were the Yale School of
Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School
of Business, Rice University, and the Olin Business School at Washington
University in St. Louis. More information about the competition and Net Impact
is available at
Huie said that “overall this was a very meaningful experience,” as he
incorporated the skills gained at Smith and his past experience in community
organizing to create a cogent argument for improvement of conditions for
Kim Robertella, Program Manager, Center for Social Value