March 4, 2019
A team of Master of Human Resources (MHR) candidates representing the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business won the Ohio State MHR Case Competition held at the end of February, beating out Cornell University (second place) and the University of Illinois (third place). A team of Moore School MBA and Master of International Business (MIB) students also placed well at a recent case competition — the team of four MBA candidates reached the finals of the Texas Christian University (TCU) MBA/MS Supply Case Competition.
The MHR team, made up of Caleb Kellogg, Sarah Everhart, Will Overstreet, and Kathryn Dixon, was led by MHR Managing Director Sally Fulkert and coached ahead of time by management lecturer Pat DeMuoy. After getting to Ohio State, the MHR candidates had an evening to relax before being thrown into the competition.
“The next day, they basically handed us the case around 9 a.m. and said, ‘Good luck,’” Overstreet said. “We went in there thinking we would just do our best and see what happens.”
The team was able to draw directly from their experiences in the MHR program to develop a response to the case, which focused on developing a career coaching strategy to drive performance and retention at Eaton Corporation.
“That’s what stood out to me most about the whole experience,” Kellogg said. “The MHR program prepares us so incredibly well to think through practical business problems such as this one,” Kellogg said. “The case competition judges were all high-level HR professionals at Fortune 500 companies, so learning how to communicate a solution to a real-world business problem will be an experience I can always draw from in the future.”
After roughly 24 hours to review and prepare, the sleep-deprived team presented their results.
“We thought there was no way we had won after hearing who placed second and third,” Overstreet said. “But we were ecstatic to hear we’d come in first — emotions were running high, I think I started crying.”
Competing in this challenge is something he says he would definitely do again.
“The main thing that we wanted to do was represent the Moore School and our MHR program well,” Overstreet said. “I don’t think many people know how great this school is and the caliber of talent it produces, so we were really thrilled to win and promote our program in that way.”
Everhart, an Ohio State graduate, agreed that the competition was a great experience that she would happily take part in again.
“The case competition gave us the opportunity to think creatively and come up with practical solutions all while in a safe environment with no real risk or consequence of failing,” she said. “While it is an intense competition, it’s so fun to work diligently with your team and network with so many other future HR leaders from around the country.”
Fulkert wasn’t at all surprised at her students’ win.
“They were well-prepared, poised and had an executable plan of action,” she said of the MHR team. “All of them are fantastic speakers and were able to engage the judges. It was a tremendous experience to see them build their confidence through the development of the plan and the delivery of their ideas.”
The MBA/MIB team — made up of International MBA candidates Laura Dorn, Wes Treiber, and Bhaskar Shankar and MIB candidate Dario Roosli — was also coached by DeMuoy.
“Despite the fact that we didn’t know ahead of time what exactly the case would be, Professor DeMuoy gave us valuable information that we were able to use in the competition,” Roosli said. “His preparation is certainly one of the factors that advanced us to the final.”
Their case dealt with how retail supply chains are likely to change in the future given how companies such as Amazon are disrupting the industry.
“I not only learned about a couple areas of business that were new to me (supply chain and retail), but I also greatly benefited from working with my teammates,” Roosli said. “My experience at this competition has given me a more structured way of tackling real-life problems, which I’m sure I’ll use in the future.”
Treiber, who’s participated in two other case competitions, agreed that competitions such as this one add to his skillset in a range of ways.
“Whether it’s learning how to evaluate a strategy for a business solution or networking with students and employers at the competition, I’m always learning something new,” he said.
Both plan to participate in MBA case competitions in the future if given the opportunity.
By Madeleine Vath