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Vanderbilt Business Hosts the National MBA Human Capital Case Competition, Vanderbilt Team Places Second

Nov 21, 2019
Teams competed for a $10,000 first prize and networked with human capital practitioners

Hosted at Vanderbilt Business for more than a decade, the National MBA Human Capital Case Competition (HCCC) challenges participants to come up with solutions to complex hiring, staffing, and performance issues. The competition gives MBA candidates from around the country a chance to think critically about human resource issues and network extensively with corporate sponsors Deloitte Consulting and HP Inc.

This year, 12 teams participated in the 13th annual competition from October 31 to November 2. Below, Andy Hampson (MBA’21), a member of this year’s planning team and director of next year’s competition, explains more about this year’s case and then reveals the winners. Later on, Marley McMillan (MBA’21) describes what it was like to participate in the competition and earn second place alongside her fellow first-year teammates Kathryn Pelino, Harry Smith, Yvonne Uduba, and JD Yeh.

Andy Hampson (MBA’21)

Andy Hampson

Last weekend, competing business schools from across the country gathered in Nashville to present their cases to the judges, flanked by practitioners from competition sponsors Deloitte and HP. This year, the case centered on an emerging logistics firm in Brazil and asked how the company could sustainably scale its operations and address industry-specific challenges.

In the end, the team representing the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business took home the top prize of $10,000. Teams representing Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business placed second and third, respectively.

Outside of the competition time, teams took advantage of Nashville’s “Southern Hospitality” and enjoyed a networking reception at the Aertson Midtown on Thursday, followed by an evening of line dancing and live country music on Friday, with sponsors and peers alike at Wildhorse Saloon.

The finalist teams were announced at the Wildhorse Saloon, and the excitement of the evening carried into Saturday as the three teams presented in front of the competing schools and sponsor representatives. Teams also delved into intimate small group discussions to talk about careers in human capital with representatives from Deloitte and HP.

On Saturday, judges formally announced the winning team, and Dean Johnson offered closing remarks to the group, highlighting Owen’s continued emphasis on human capital and organizational performance in business school and beyond.

On behalf of the first-year planning team members, I want to thank members of the second-year planning team — Brenna Brown, Ryan Smith, and Mariam Amusan (all MBA’20) — for their hard work and mentorship in planning this outstanding case competition. The Human Capital Case Competition Planning Committee would also like to thank the sponsor teams, faculty, staff, and competing schools for their support and participation in this year’s event. We are looking forward to carrying that legacy of excellence forward next year. —Andy Hampson

Marley McMillan (MBA’21)

Marley McMillan

Participating in the 2019 National MBA Human Capital Case Competition has been a highlight of my first-year experience at Owen. In a few words, the competition was rigorous, collaborative, exciting, and, most of all, fun. The team experience was especially rewarding, and I am proud of how Harry, JD, Kathryn, Yvonne and I achieved interdependence, supported one another, and adapted to unexpected twists in the competition.

Coming from a non-traditional background, I gained great insight working with this diverse team to assess the human capital implications of a complex business case. As an athlete, I found the nature of the competition to be highly motivating, and we were thrilled to represent Vanderbilt in the finals for the first time in 10 years, ultimately taking second place. I leave the competition with improved problem-solving and presentation skills, and I am grateful for the unique bond formed with classmates turned teammates. Together, we look forward to building on the success of this year and coaching Vanderbilt’s team to an equally gratifying experience in 2020. —Marley McMillan

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