A Chance to Empower, Connect, and Learn
Case competitions are crucial components of a business student’s development of highly sought-after skills such as creativity, strategic thinking, confidence, teamwork, and public speaking. Typically spanning the course of one week, a company proposes a current challenge that their business is facing, and students have one week to prepare new ideas and solutions to help the company, which are delivered via PowerPoints and half-hour presentations. Some past sponsors of McCombs Case Competitions include AT&T, ConocoPhillips, Target, Altria, and several start-ups looking for fresh perspectives on their toughest ideas. McCombs hosts approximately 5-10 case competitions per year, which includes those sponsored by student organizations as well as company-directed competitions.
McCombs Case Competition participants impress judges and sponsors with the in-depth solutions they have created within a week for a true company-proposed problem.
Interestingly, there was a consistent skewed gender ratio which undermines the competitions. Prior to our first Women's Case Competition,
29% of case competition participants were women, yet 50% of business students were women.
What was the cause for the lack of women representation?
2015 Business Honors and Marketing Alumna Angela Morisette and 2015 Finance Alumna Allie Koenig alongside the Director of BBA Student Life Stephanie Hinojosa-Galvan interviewed and researched the potential causes with previous participants and non-participants in these competitions. They found that self-doubt, lack of experience, as well as the intensity and duration of the case competitions were factors leading to lower women participation.
With this knowledge in hand, Stephanie, Angela, and Allie designed an ideal case competition for women participation. We are seeking sponsorship for the sixth McCombs Women's Case competition to encourage students to take advantage of the rewarding and intellectual benefits of case competitions. The collaborators in this project are Women in Business Association, the Undergraduate Business Council, and Graduate Women in Business, with support from the McCombs Office of Student Life.
Inaugural Women's Case Competition (January 2015)
At a glance:
72 undergraduate women participants
20 women MBA mentors
76% of finalists were first-time competitors
88% of the participants said they would recommend this competition to a friend in the future.
HomeAway was the title sponsor, and received the rights to write the case that the students solved.
Case Prompt: Evaluate opportunities to increase demand from younger or Millennial travelers, strengthening HomeAway’s brand and value proposition to this group.
“The Women's Case competition was AMAZING. All of the teams came up with truly great ideas in only 3 days! I was blown away by their talent and it was definitely beneficial for our upper level executives to hear their fresh and innovative ideas. I’m so grateful that I was able to represent HomeAway and serve as a judge for the inaugural year.”
- Lynn Atchison, CFO of HomeAway
“I left that competition feeling so empowered…I realized my existing passion and skill set for problem solving and communicating could be reflected in my business career!”
– Binna Kim, sophomore winner of WCC
Meredith Rotwein, sophomore winner of WCC and first time competition participant, went on two weeks later to join the Deloitte Case Competition, where her team received 3rd place.
2nd McCombs Women's Case Competition (January 2016)
At a glance:
89 women participants
The first place team was Power Consulting, consisting of 4 freshmen, for whom this was their first case competition.
Dell was the title sponsor, and presented an enticing case that asked participants to think critically about new ways to target the millennial population with the Dell XPS brand.
“I could not have asked for a better first competition experience than the 2016 McCombs School of Business Women's Case Competition because of the lifelong skills I learned and the networking opportunities I got as a freshman.” - Sweta Sridhar, member of the 2016 FCC winning team Power Consulting, BBA '19
"I participated in the Women's Case Competition during my freshman year. Although my team did not advance to the final round, the experience gave me exposure to business problems, and ability to present a solution to McCombs faculty and corporate representatives. With the confidence that I gained through Women's Case, I went on to compete in national coed case competitions hosted by other universities as a sophomore. I'm extremely grateful for WCC, and am excited to see the event go national this year."
- Cyndi Huang, 2015 WCC participant