Five Hobart and William Smith students participated in the two-day Early Leaders Case Competition (ELCC) at Rochester’s Simon Business School earlier this month. For the third consecutive year, HWS students were members of the first, second and third-place teams, exceling among a pool of students from some of the top-ranked business schools in the country.
The students who participated were: first place team member, Emma Anderson ’16; second place team member, Liana Folger ’15; and, third place team member, Justin Pacione ’16. Ato Bentsi-Enchill ’17 and Matthew Colfax ’16 also participated. Students joined the competition from Ursinus College, Knox College, the College of Wooster, University of Rochester, Ohio State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, SUNY Brockport and Spelman College.
“The level of competition is intense every year, and a lot of these schools send students who are business majors,” says Assistant Professor of Economics and Pre-business Adviser Warren Hamilton, who’s also a judge in the annual competition. “We don’t have a business program, so that our students are so successful says that we’re doing something right here. We’re able to develop a lot of necessary quantitative and analytical thinking skills that make our students highly competitive with other schools that have a business and finance focus, and I think those are our strong points that business students might not have.”
The competition brings together current undergraduate students to compete in a business case over the course of one weekend. This year’s even took place from Friday, Nov. 7 to Saturday, Nov. 8. Students are split into nine teams of four to five people and given 24 hours to complete a business task. This year’s challenge was working on a small start-up company, Cole & Parker. The company sells colorful business and athletic socks and donates a portion of their profit to Kiva, a nonprofit that provides loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Anderson, a cultural anthropology major with a minor in sustainable community development, says each group came up with a plan to increase total accounts for the company from 100 to 500 in the following year and also developed a plan to increase profit within two to five years. At the end of 24 hours, each group had to hand in a business analysis and present their business plan in the form of a power point presentation to a panel of judges.
“My team came up with ‘ALTER your wardrobe, Alter lives: A Five Year Sustainable Business Strategy for the Future of Cole & Parker,'” Anderson explains. “We created our ALTER Model which is a five-year business plan to increase Cole & Parker’s profits. ALTER is an acronym for awareness, leadership, teamwork, environment and relationships. Each word correlates with our plan for that year.”
Anderson says “it was a complete surprise” to come in first-place. “We worked really hard on our project and we just wanted to do the best we could in the limited time that we had,” she says. “We came to the competition in the mindset that no matter what happened we wanted to learn from each other and the experience as a whole. I think we accomplished that before the results were even announced.”
Bentsi-Enchill, a double major in international relations and French and Francophone studies, along with his teammates decided to enlist Neil Patrick Harris of “How I Met Your Mother” as a brand ambassador for their Cole & Parker proposal. They also included Snapchat in their plan as a way to promote their new designs and gain customer loyalty.
“Getting this kind of experience at an early stage is exactly what I need,” says Bentsi-Enchill, who hopes to enter management consultancy in the future. “It was a great experience and I would do it again if I got the chance.”
The ELCC competition was started eight years ago by University of Rochester’s Simon Business School. HWS started sending students five-years-ago to the competition, and for past three years have placed members on the first, second, and third place teams.
“It allows our students to compete on an even level with students that are focused on business, on marketing, and on finance, because we don’t really have a high concentration of those courses here,” Hamilton says. “I think it makes them feel stronger and more able to compete for jobs.”
In the photo above, Pre-Business Adviser and Assistant Professor of Economics Warren Hamilton, Justin Pacione ’16, Liana Folger ’15, Ato Bentis-Enchill ’17, Emma Anderson ’16 and Matthew Colfax ’16 gather for a photo at the Early Leaders Case Competition held at University of Rochester’s Simon Business School. Anderson was on the first place team.