Case Competition 101

If you want to know how to pull off a successful case competition, ask Rice MBA candidates Gilbert Lei ‘12 and Van Nguyen ‘12. They recently co-led the 2012 Rice MBA Marketing Case Competition and it was successful not only as an academic experience, but in honing leadership skills, bringing like-minded colleagues together, and networking with industry professionals.

Last spring, Rice Marketing Club advisors, Vikas Mittal and Ajay Kalra, suggested the club host a case competition. “I knew this event would be challenging, but after much consideration, I agreed,” said Van, then incoming president of Rice Marketing Club. Gilbert volunteered and was elected by club members to be the vice president who would lead this event. Gilbert and Van had meetings throughout the summer and in the fall enlisted the help of first-year MBAs to form a Case Competition Committee.

Marketing Case Competition

The two students shared in the balance of visionary leadership and logistical talent, also crediting Jones School staff, other club board members and faculty with their success. “Every time I asked for help I got more than I requested,” Gilbert said. “It was an amazing team effort.”

Neither Van nor Gilbert had attended a case competition before so they had a lot of homework. After speaking to schools with top marketing programs about organization, logistics, and promoting a competition, they landed a primary financial sponsor in Cameron.

Marketing executives from Cameron and Jones School marketing and communications faculty were enlisted as judges. Three teams were recruited from the University of Houston, one from Texas Southern University, one mixed team from University of Houston and University of Texas, and three from the Jones School. In all, 35 MBAs attended the event and prizes worth over $2000 were awarded to winning teams.

As the main sponsor of the event, Cameron was given the opportunity to propose a marketing case. The company was looking for ways to seek best practices for their social media and this was determined to be the case for the competition. Once presented, each team had 12 hours to prepare.

“This competition centered around our club’s mission: to educate, equip, and enrich Rice MBA students and the community about marketing,” Van said. The group also wanted to make the Rice Marketing Club and the Jones School more visible in the Houston and Texas communities. Van said that the group wanted to “show other MBA programs in our community that the Jones School has a strong interest in marketing as a profession and that we are inclusive and interested in getting to know our colleagues from our regional business schools.”

Case competition participants from Rice included: Melanie Jones, LaMecia Butler, Guillermo Mezzatesta, Corali Muente, Hector Rodriguez, Arun Thaticherla, Andrew Harrell, Andrew Baxter, Mike LaBoda, Kurt Schoeffler, Stephen Tsai, and Rahul Raphael.

The Rice Marketing Club’s Case Competition Committee helped organize this event, along with other Marketing Club board members. Those students include committee members Jeanette Pasuizaca, Tatiana Loza and Larry Martin; and volunteers Jessica Lewis, Ravi Dubey, Monica Cordova, Pallavi Hisaria, Ming Yan, Feroz Mulla, and Shamsha Damani.