Juniors Sarah Wilson, David Fay and Sean Breen got their first taste of the business world. The three participated in the Simon School of Business “Early Leader” Case Competition at the University of Rochester. Undergraduate students from dozens of prestigious colleges were presented with a case study for the Target Corporation, and were asked to generate ideas that would increase the company’s revenue, diversify its clients, or increase the frequency with which shoppers visit Target.
Upon arrival, students were split into groups of five members to work on the project, and were given only 22 hours to deliberate and create a presentation to simulate the decisions and process of business leaders in companies around the world. Final presentations were made to a panel of judges consisting of professors and MBA students from the Simon School, and groups were assessed for their creativity and problem solving skills.
“The case competition was a great experience because I learned so much that just cannot be learned in a classroom,” says Wilson. “I was really nervous at first because I didn’t know what to expect, so it was a great way to practice ‘people skills.’ I also gained great experience with public speaking.”
One of the best aspects of the competition, notes Breen, was having a group rich with diversity. Breen’s group included members from Nigeria and Taiwan, providing a multitude of perspectives. “Being able to work with the team of students was a rewarding experience because I also was able to learn about other cultures.”
“I found the actual presentation part of the competition an invaluable practice for what I will hopefully be doing later in life,” adds Breen who plans to go into real estate development. Breen also said his group was so devoted to their presentation that they worked well into the night. The proposals made by his group before the panel included in-store tutoring and daycare facilities for the children of busy shoppers, a rewards program, and better smartphone applications.
“The students represented HWS in a great fashion,” says Assistant Professor of Economics and Pre-Business Advisor Warren Hamilton who attended the competition. “I am very proud of their performances.” Due to the success of the program, Hamilton hopes to see other students with an interest in business join next year’s competition.