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Vanderbilt Business Student-Team Wins Second Place at the SEC MBA Case Competition

Apr 25, 2022
A team of 4 Vanderbilt MBAs earns $6,000

By Lacie Blankenship

A team of 4 Vanderbilt Business students – Ricky LaChance (MBA’22), Jacob Price (MBA’22), Jackson Wetherington (MBA’22), and Angela Williams (MBA’22) – secured second place in the recent SEC MBA Case Competition.

Hosted by the University of Kentucky in early April, the 2022 SEC MBA Case Competition marked the first in-person version of the event in 3 years, exclusive to SEC business schools. The 2022 competition featured a case provided by Valvoline, Inc

“The SEC MBA Case Competition was a tremendous opportunity for our team to compete for Vanderbilt Business,” says LaChance. “We’re grateful to Valvoline for sponsoring the competition and giving us the opportunity to work on their brand.”

L to R: Jacob Price, Angela Williams, Jackson Wetherington, Ricky LaChance

The competition kicked off on Thursday, April 7, when student teams were organized into divisions. On Friday morning, Sam Mitchell, CEO of Valvoline, greeted the teams before Leslie Noel, Director of Consumer Services at Valvoline, presented the case. The teams had nearly 24 hours to curate their recommendations and presentations.

The teams were challenged to address how the automotive industry will shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles and subsequently lower preventive maintenance costs. The students presented their ideas for Valvoline to grow in a shrinking market through either more competitive offerings or new service offerings, all while accounting for future factors like autonomous vehicles.  

“[The case] was extremely challenging due to the high level of uncertainty in the industry, and it was eye-opening to see how companies like Valvoline will have to pivot to cater to these changes,” says Wetherington.

“Tackling the issue of the future of automotive was very intricate and ambiguous,” says Wetherington. “There are so many ways the industry can turn in the coming decades, and we appreciate Valvoline presenting us with such a challenging topic.”

“We made sure that each of our recommendations was rooted in strategy and could be practically executed,” says LaChance. “Staying true to Valvoline’s brand values and focusing on the customer experience was paramount in our ideations.”

The judges consisted of Valvoline executives for both the preliminary and final rounds. Overall, Vanderbilt Business finished second and took home $6,000 for the participants to split amongst themselves. 

“We appreciate Valvoline sending top-level executives to judge the competition, as it made us feel as if everyone’s suggestions were being taken seriously,” says Wetherington. 

The Vanderbilt Business team was advised by Sarah Rigsby, Assistant Director of Student Affairs. Once the case was presented on Friday morning, team advisors could not communicate with their students but they were able to observe the presentations and provide support after the conclusion of the competition.

“We could not have placed second without the guidance of Professor Brian McCann and our adviser, Sarah Rigsby,” says LaChance. “Special shout out to UK for hosting and to our team student ambassador, Jake Breunig.”

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