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UVM MBA Team Shines at International Case Competition

Left to right: Katharina Regina Schaal, Chloe Cangardel, Jennifer Swain, Erin Creley, Patty McShane

The University of Vermont MBA case competition team was the only U.S. team to finish in the top 12 at the John Molson MBA International Case Competition earlier this month.  UVM placed ahead of seven other American universities including Purdue University, Indiana, Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

The team, comprised of Chloe Cangardel, Erin Creley, Jennifer Swain, Katharina Regina Schaal and Patty McShane, traveled to Montreal, Quebec earlier this month to participate in this international competition, which is recognized as the largest competition of its kind.  Thirty-six schools from five continents and 14 different countries were represented.

“Every part of my MBA studies was augmented by the process of participating in this competition,” said Chloe Cangardel, a MBA student and member of the case competition team.  “We trained for up to 8 hours a week during the semester before the case competition, by simulating the whole process as much as possible: we would take business cases, lock ourselves in a room for 3 hours, then present to faculty of different disciplines (posing as judges) for feedback and guidance. The school was exceptionally supportive of our training - we had some fantastic feedback and help from many different faculty members.”

The competition format is a round-robin tournament consisting of five business cases.  The cases are selected from among the top entries in the annual Case Writing Competition.  One of the cases is a live case presentation by a major company about a real-life business challenge that they are currently facing.

“All five of them (4 team members, plus an alternate) put in a great deal of hard work to prepare, and then remained focused, determined and enthusiastic throughout the competition,” said John Monahan, team coach and full-time lecturer at the School of Business Administration.  “Their case analyses were solid, their presentations were smooth and convincing.  After 4 of the 5 rounds leading to selection of semifinalists, UVM was in 4th place overall (out of 36 teams!). A win in the 5th competition would have propelled them into the semifinals, but an unfortunate loss dropped them into a tie for 11th place;  only 9 teams advanced to the semifinals.  Still, by this time UVM had been identified as a serious contender. ”

“The John Molson MBA International Case Competition is highly regarded and valued by students, programs and employers,” said Jennifer Swain, an MBA student and member of the case competition team.  “It provided an opportunity to put to practice the skills and knowledge that I've acquired in my first semester as an MBA candidate.  It also allowed me to network with students from around the world, and to broaden my ideas of which industries and regions I might pursue employment in.”

In the end, the team from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia took home the $10,000 (CAD) prize. 

“Case competitions are one of the most rewarding parts of MBA studies, in my opinion,” said Cangardel.  “Here are the top five reasons to get involved (in a case competition):

1. Your self-driven learning will be wider and deeper than what you cover in classes

2. You will develop time management skills you never knew you had

3. You will grow your network to encompass people in many fields, from all over the world

4. You will learn to confidently defend a course of action that you just developed

5. Your teamwork skills will shine

Finally.... you can showcase all of these skills to future employers!”