A Case for Marketing Recognition

For the third year in a row, the Rice MBA Marketing Case Competition brought MBA candidates from across the country to campus this past weekend. The competition bridges the gap between academia and the business world by giving MBA teams the opportunity to leverage their business acumen to solve real-world marketing problems.

Cameron International has sponsored the event since its inception, and this year, for the first time, competing teams were challenged to provide insight and recommendations about a Cameron-authored case. The ‘live-case’ format helped students and executives gain insight about a business issue faced by their company. Cameron will use the teams’ findings to improve their marketing decision making.

The event began with a dinner Thursday night where teams met each other and executives from Cameron. The case was distributed that evening, and teams had until 1 pm Friday to develop their presentations. In the first round, every team drew random assignments and presented in front of judges who had no prior knowledge of which school teams represented. Three teams were announced as finalists, and they immediately presented in the auditorium in front of everyone to compete for first, second and third place.

"It was a great experience with lots of 'ah-ha' and team-building moments,” said Owen Davies, a business student at the University of Houston. “It was fun to compete on an intellectual level with such reputable universities. Rice, along with the support of Cameron, was a terrific host and had solutions for everything, which made the entire event go smoothly.”

Made up of four to five MBA students each, 11 teams participated from eight business schools including those from Vanderbilt University, Washington University, The Pennsylvania State University, Tulane University, Louisiana State University, University of Houston, The University of Texas at Dallas, and Rice University.

Eight judges were enlisted, including five marketing executives from Cameron and three professors from University of Houston, Texas Tech University and the Jones School.

Hosted by the Rice Marketing Club and organized by a committee of full-time Rice MBA students led by club vice president Christian Hinkie (Rice MBA ’14), the case competition divided prize money totaling $7,000 among the top three winning teams: $4,000 to first place winner Vanderbilt, $2,000 to second place winner UH, and $1,000 to third place winner Washington U.

An in-kind closing reception was sponsored by H-E-B, Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co., and Pedernales Cellars. Both Pedernales and Buffalo Bayou Brewing were founded by Rice alumni (Pedernales by David Kuhlken, Rice ’94; Buffalo Bayou by CEO Rassul Zarinfar, Rice ’04, who attended the reception with Daniel Willis, Rice ’12).

Dr. Connie Porter, visiting assistant professor of marketing and co-advisor to the Rice Marketing Club, said, “The Jones School has deep and longstanding ties with Cameron, and we view our case competition as a means to enhance the value of this relationship. Their sustained sponsorship has made it possible for the event to expand every year, enabling the Jones School to foster greater intellectual engagement and interaction among a community of students and faculty within Texas and beyond.”