Experiential / Reality-based Learning / September 2, 2021

MBA Students Close Orientation With M&T Bank Case Competition

MBA Students Close Orientation With M&T Bank Case Competition

How can a leading financial institution effectively deliver banking products and services to disadvantaged communities while still earning a socially responsible profit for shareholders?

That was the question posed to Maryland Smith’s MBA students in the M&T Bank Case competition. The event, which took place at the close of Smith’s two-week MBA orientation, brought students together to work in teams to identify how the company can effectively deliver banking products and services to disadvantaged communities while still earning a socially responsible profit for shareholders.

Over the course of the two-day period, 12 teams of first-year MBA students worked with 15 leaders from M&T Bank to craft strategies for enhancing the bank’s community-building capabilities.

The case competition is part of an orientation tradition at Maryland Smith. It braces students for the real-life challenges they’ll face in the MBA program and beyond.

“Going into this competition, we gave our students three goals: Stretch, learn and connect. This is a shared experience that’s less about competition and more about community building and how we can bring students, alumni and corporate partners together. The judges were so impressed with all of our students and how each idea never took a linear path to every solution. We’re very proud of all of their hard work.” said Neta Moye, assistant dean and executive director of Smith’s Office of Career Services.

Teams presented to a panel of guest judges on topics that included community reinvestment, risk mitigation and regulatory compliance. The top three teams selected by judges moved on to a final round of 15-minute presentations with a 10-minute Q&A immediately after.

Students Will Jessup, Urshilah Senthilnathan, Syed Naqvi, Young Lee and Mahum Javir were awarded first place honors for their approach to bolstering the bank’s presence in underrepresented communities by using kiosks. The team took home the $750 prize, as well as an additional opportunity to pitch to M&T Bank executives in the coming weeks.

“An experience like this helps get rid of the presentation nerves, knowing that I’ve already done it in front of my entire cohort and people from external companies,” says first-year student Javir.

Teams also recommended strategies focused on fair lending practices, government regulations, available products, physical locations and industry trends. They identified the needs of specific communities and developed implementation plans that considered their impact on the entire bank, as well as the various communities represented within the bank.

Speaking to one of the teams, Cecilia Hodges, M&T Bank regional president for greater Washington and Virginia, said, “Your overall presentation was fantastic. You defined the problem well and delivered a solution that meets customers where they are. It’s a really great, disruptive new idea, so congratulations to all of you.”

Following the event, a reception was held in Van Munching Hall in celebration of the students’ accomplishments in the competition.

“The beauty of these case competitions is that everyone is given the same case, but each team finds their own way to a unique solution. That in itself showcases the necessity of these competitions in that we can work together to tackle complex problems,” Maryland Smith Dean Prabhudev Konana said during the event.

“One of our biggest strengths here at the Smith School is our community and how we come together. Thank you to everyone who makes this place what it can be and thank you especially to M&T Bank for providing our students with this opportunity.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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