After months of MBA coursework, students run the case-competition gauntlet—proving they can apply the skills learned in the classroom. Those who can think on their feet walk away with prize money, bragging rights and an achievement to add to their resume.

Case competitions give students a business problem to solve. Competitors work in teams and under time pressure to create a solution to the issue. It’s the ideal opportunity for business students to apply their knowledge.

In addition to the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business annual, internal case competition, Ivy MBA students showed off their business prowess this fall semester at two additional case competitions: the International Case Competition hosted by the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Melon and the MBA Virtual Case Competition in Ethical Leadership at Baylor University.

“Competitions are a great way to prepare students for the professional workspace,” said Sarah Wilson, director of professional masters student services. “Working with a team to solve a problem is exactly what they’ll be doing as professionals. It’s the perfect culmination of their education and gives them an opportunity to apply their skills.”

This year’s internal case competition challenged groups of second-year MBA students to come up with a marketing plan for a Drinkworks Home Bar—a machine that uses flavor pods to make mixed drinks. Once the case was announced, student teams were given three days to come up with a business solution and formal presentation. Teams recorded their presentation for a panel of expert judges to review. A live, vigorous question and answer (Q&A) session followed each presentation via WebEx.

Three of the seven teams made it to the final round. Friends and family were invited to watch on WebEx. A recording of the initial presentation was streamed to a new panel of judges. Following another live Q&A, winners were declared.

Final round judges included many prominent business leaders, including President of Retirement and Income Solutions at Principal, Renee Shaaf, and Associate Provost at Iowa State University, Anne Marie VanDerZanden, to name a few.

Shawn Goetz, Emma Kent, Carissa Moyna and Nishant Praveen each walked away with a $1,000 first prize scholarship.

Yihong Li, Cole Schumacher, Max Garton and Jenna Teberg took second place, which comes with a $500 scholarship.

Kyle Wendt, Ana Pena Santucci, Jared Davis and Daisy Smith earned the $250 third prize.

In addition, Max Garton and Carissa Moyna tied for Best Overall Performer, a distinction that comes with a $500 prize.

The Best Divisional Q&A went to Ali Kalawadh, Max Garton and Carissa Moyna. The Best Divisional Presenter went to Daisy Smith, Jacob Minock and Josh Dilley. Both awards come with a $250 prize.

“When we were announced as the first-place team, my mom and I literally jumped up and down and screamed, which is one of the perks of video calls with the highly useful mute function,” said first-place winner Carissa Moyna. “I was thrilled to be a part of the history of the MBA program as I have always thought so highly of the teams who placed first. I see this as the pinnacle of my MBA experience and as the pinnacle for us as a team because it showed that our team was at its best. Without teamwork, first place would not have been ours. Now it’s time to buy a Drinkworks Home Bar of our own to celebrate and see how it works in real life!”

External case competitions are also an option for MBA students. This year a team of first-year MBA students—Luke Safris, Christie Nguyen and Claire Voss—made it to the top five in the Carnegie Melon’s International Case Competition.

“What an exceptional experience for all of them,” said Tabatha Carney, assistant director of graduate business career services. “As first-year MBA students with only a few months of formal business education and training, they did a tremendous job. We are so proud of how they represented themselves, their team and the Ivy College of Business.”

Student, Clair Voiss, learned a lot from the competition.

“Coming in with little to no experience with these competitions or in supply chain caused my team to get a slow start,” said Voiss. “But as we began to get the ideas flowing, we were able to create a cohesive presentation that led us to the finals. I learned that confidence and well-made slides can go a long way, and that you don’t have to be a subject expert to be successful. I also learned the importance of being able to quickly develop and answer the questions that judges ask. I know have a strong base for future competitions.”

That same weekend, a second team of students—Quinton Nespor, Maddy Piggot, Carissa Moyna and Kyle Wendt—represented the Ivy College of Business at the National MBA Case Competition in Ethical Leadership at Baylor University. While the team didn’t place, Carissa Moyna was recognized as the Best Q&A in her division.

Teams participating in external competitions were coached and mentored by John Burnley, Sarah Wilson, Jamie Sass and Tabatha Carney through workshops and training sessions.

In the spring, the Ivy College of Business will send a team to TCU’s Supply Chain Virtual Case Competition, the Big XII MBA case competition at Oklahoma State University, and our own Ivy Mind to Market competition.