By Lacie Blankenship
A team of 3 Vanderbilt Business students – Arianae Tsavaris (MBA’23), Emmy DiGiovanni Banks (MBA‘23), and Natalie Bisciotti (MBA‘23) – secured second place in the recent AT&T SHE COUNTS Case Competition.
AT&T College Recruiting and AT&T Women of Finance hosted the virtual Case Competition in early October.
Inspired by challenges with heightened demand for remote school and work throughout the pandemic, the topic of the competition was “reducing the digital divide and evolving fiber product offerings.” The topic’s relevance was also driven by current opportunities for broadband infrastructure funding by several government programs (such as the American Rescue Plan), as noted in the case details.
SHE COUNTS participants addressed the ways AT&T could secure government funding to address the digital divide, how the company could support people working/learning remotely, and explore opportunities for AT&T to introduce new products and services.
“The prompt of the case provoked the unique challenge of providing a creative solution founded in quantitative data; we were tasked with both determining the basis for our calculations and then solving for key financial metrics,” says Banks.
Proposed solutions were showcased in a 15-minute presentation to directors and VPs at AT&T, followed by a Q&A segment. Teams were judged on their understanding of Fiber Internet, the ins and outs of their financial analysis, communication, and presentation skills, alongside the recommendations.
“The judges provided valuable feedback for future presentations,” says Banks. “We explored the importance of telling a story, the credibility that comes with acknowledging risks and challenges, and the ease of a simple slide deck when coupled with high quality spoken content.”
Teams that placed earned prize money to be used at their discretion; the Vanderbilt team won $3,000.
“One of my favorite experiences at Owen has been working with teams, whether it’s creating presentations or fine-tuning my public speaking skills,” says Tsavaris. “I leveraged these experiences at the SHE COUNTS Competition.”
“Not coming from a finance background, I found the biggest benefit was gaining experience putting class concepts to practical use and learning from Emmy [Banks] and Arianae [Tsavaris], as we all came from different backgrounds and brought something unique to the table,” says Bisciotti.
The SHE COUNTS Case Competition had an emphasis on female involvement but welcomed participants of all genders. Each participating team was assigned an AT&T mentor, all of which were female.
“As a graduate of one of the Seven Sisters women’s colleges and having spent a decade working in finance, it was a great opportunity for me to be part of this unique case competition that targeted at empowering women in quantitative fields,” says Tsavaris.
Tsavaris, Banks, and Bisciotti do not yet have plans to compete as a team again but are looking forward to a celebratory dinner sometime in Mod 2. The women plan to individually participate in various upcoming competitions like Marketing Madness hosted by the Owen Marketing Association (OMA) and the Deloitte Case Competition.
“The [SHE COUNTS Case] Competition felt like a way to combine everything we learned from Professor Bill Christie in Finance and Professor Kimberly Pace in Communications and put it to a real-world test,” says Banks.