First place winners Andrew Knasiak, Setu Shah, Andrew Guernier and Chandan Dhal.

MBA students collect top prizes in major case competitions

The events represent opportunities for MBA students to test their classroom knowledge and take control of their careers with real world preparation.

Rutgers MBA students have stacked up major wins at case competitions across the country, demonstrating their strategy and team work as well as their knowledge against teams from other leading business schools around the world.

At the North Carolina State Grand Business Challenge, Rutgers Business School won first place in a competition that challenged the team to assess a pharmaceutical company’s vulnerability to a cyber attack and develop a strategic cybersecurity plan to protect the company’s operations.

Other major wins by Rutgers Full-Time MBA students include:

  • First place in the regional ASCM Case Competition sponsored by Deloitte.
  • Third place in the Katz Invitational Case Competition at the University of Pittsburgh.

In North Carolina, the Rutgers team – made up of MBA students Chandan Dhal, Andrew Guernier, Andrew Knasiak and Setu Shah – went through three rounds before facing off against students from Florida State University and Singapore Management University to capture the top prize. 

By all accounts, the third round was the most intense, requiring the team to prepare another presentation in less than 24 hours. They huddled in a hotel room, eating sour patch candies, drinking coffee and developing their case until after 3 a.m. They slept for a few hours and gathered together again to continue rehearsing and polishing the case they would present to the judges at noon.

Find out more about the Rutgers MBA experience. Register to attend a Graduate Admissions Open House on Saturday, March 21, in New Brunswick or Sunday, April 19, in Newark.

In the end, Knasiak and Dhal said the team’s lack of experience in the area of cybersecurity played to their advantage. “The judges like the simplicity of our presentation and how we made technology and cybersecurity understandable,” Knasiak said.

Dhal was also part of a team of Rutgers MBA students who won first place in the regional ASCM Case Competition sponsored by Deloitte. That team included Full-Time MBA students Supriya Subramaniam, Marcos Londoño and Daniel Bolotsky.

The competition required students to examine an automobile manufacturer’s order-to-delivery operation and recommend improvements to the order fulfillment cycle process, which drew on the team's knowledge of finance, supply chain and marketing.

Rutgers team wins third place at Katz case competition.
Full-Time MBA students Akshay Arora, Dan Bolotsky, Gregory Gerold and Arthur Bellis were third-place winners at Pittsburg’s Katz Invitational Case Competition.

Bolotsky, who is majoring in supply chain and finance, said feedback from the judges indicated that they liked the team’s presentation. “We told a story,” Bolotsky said. “We identified the issues and explained how little changes would improve the company’s delivery cycle.”

More than 50 teams from business schools around the world competed in eight regional events. The top teams now advance to the global finals in New Orleans in September.

Bolotsky said he was an athlete as an undergraduate so some of the appeal of doing case competitions – he’s done three and plans at least two more – is the thrill of competition itself. “I also like taking what I’ve learned and applying it to a real-world problem,” he said.

Only weeks before, Bolotsky had teamed up with classmates Arthur Bellis, Gregory Gerold and first-year MBA student Akshay Arora to win third place in the University of Pittsburg’s Katz Invitational Case Competition where they beat such schools as Penn State, Carnegie Mellon, Ohio State and Baylor.

“It’s what we’re going to be doing in the real world.” - MBA student Andrew Knasiak explaining why he wanted to participate in a case competition.

In the competition, the students had to develop a business segment strategy that identified future areas of growth and investment for a company that makes components for the aerospace defense industry. The Rutgers team spent hours poring through regulatory filings and other documents. “You had to know everything about the company,” Gerold said.

For several weeks, the four students traded information daily via WhatsApp, and when they ran into one another on campus, they had spontaneous brainstorming sessions to exchange ideas. That brainstorming continued throughout the competition. It was Arora who came up with a clever, memorable branding slogan that resulted in praise from the judges, all of whom were executives with the competition’s sponsoring company.

See Arora's video of the team's experience.

Gerold said for him the competition represented a chance to formulate a strategy and make a convincing argument under pressure. Arora said he savored the problem-solving challenge of working within an industry that he was completely new to him.

Many of the MBA students involved in the big wins already had experience doing one or more case competitions.

Bellis, who helped Rutgers win third place at Katz Business School, said case competitions are an important part of the Full-Time MBA experience. “It’s a great opportunity to network with other students and to meet industry professionals,” he said. “It’s also experiential learning that gives us hands-on problem-solving experience.”

And as Knasiak said: “It’s what we’re going to be doing in the real world.”

-Susan Todd




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