In spring 2017, dozens of Finance Fellows tackled a case entitled “INFINITI HR – Target or Acquirer?” for their annual Emerging CFOs Case Competition held at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. A couple of weeks ago, the authors of the case, Karen Hallows and Susan White, who both teach in the finance department, presented the same case at an international conference and were awarded the prestigious Jonathan Welch Award for the best finance, accounting or economics case.
Hundreds of researchers, case writers and teachers, mostly in the business disciplines from around the U.S. and the world, gathered in Chicago, Ill., Oct. 19-21, 2017, for the annual conference of the North American Case Research Association (NACRA).
“Writing cases has become one of my favorite things to do in the past five or six years," says Hallows, who has been a senior lecturer with Smith since 2011. "I have gotten to know other case writers from around the country through the NACRA organization and it has helped me to write better cases and the instructors manuals. It was a great honor to be recognized for our case.”
White, clinical professor and the faculty champion for the Emerging CFOs Fellows Program, oversees all seven of the Smith School’s unique Finance Fellows programs and is the coordinator of two of the premier Finance Fellows events -- the Emerging CFOs and the Wikler Case Competition. Each spring, scores of undergraduates compete in teams in one, or both, events for monetary awards. Hallows has been a case competition panel judge for both events for the past several years.
White explained the genesis of the successful collaboration between herself and Hallows: “Each year, the Emerging CFOs Finance Fellows consults with a local company about a finance problem. The consulting work ends with a case competition, where students present their solution to company executives. A few years earlier, the company was greeNEWit, a Columbia, Md., energy audit company. One of greeNEWit's employees moved to INFINITI HR and asked if their company could be a case study for the Finance Fellows. They presented us with a very interesting problem - whether to continue to grow the firm through acquisitions or to be acquired themselves.”
Continued White, “The students did a great job working with INFINITI HR. This is a company that wants to grow, but was unsure how to accomplish it - through acquiring smaller Professional Employee Organizations (PEOs) or by being acquired? We took the information from the company and developed a case that can be used in any corporate finance classroom.”
“Cases are an engaging way for students to learn finance and when it’s fun, learning happens much more effectively,” added Hallows.
White said they were “very pleased that it [the Infiniti HR case] was chosen as the best finance/ accounting/economics case at this year's conference.”
In addition to this award-winning collaboration, Hallows and White will co-teach a semester-long course this spring exploring business in Brazil from an economic and financial standpoint. Embedded in the curriculum, is an eight-day excursion to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro during the spring break in March. Applications for this three-credit undergraduate course are being accepted until December 1, 2017. Hallows and White have previously led study abroad consulting programs to Nicaragua, Brazil and China/Hong Kong.
For more information about the undergraduate program at Smith, visit: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad
- Claudia Donnelly, Smith Undergraduate Program