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LeBow and IBM Host Case Competition

October 20, 2008

LeBow College of Business and IBM hosted the first annual IBM Case Competition on Friday, Oct. 17. The winning foursome was made up of students Mohammed Ismail, Margarita Triantafyllidou, Supratik Bhattacharjee, and Brennan O'Brien. The second-place group included students Kevin Gandhi, Harshal Deorukhkar, Wei Mao, and Cara Jespersen.

Thirty-two students participated in the competition, making up two teams that were divided into four groups of four students. Each group consisted of two One-Year MBA students, one Two-Year MBA student, and one senior undergraduate business student.

Each group's task was to sell computer hardware to the three largest credit card companies. They had to create investment strategies and execution strategies to achieve revenues and gross margin points, as well as focus on volumes, price, and market strength in order to obtain the highest revenues. And simulating a real-world environment, they had to achieve these things as the credit card company buyers' fought to get the highest-quality product at the lowest price - and perks like Phillies World Series tickets and a job for one representative's nephew.

"We included ethical issues, which [the students] had to determine if there was a problem or how to deal with it," said a representative from IBM.

Two four-person teams - one from each group - were selected as the finalists. Each group gave a 12-minute presentation on their performance, and judges then choose the winning group.

"It was challenging. It made you think on your feet," said One-Year MBA student Cara Jespersen, who noted that the teams worked well together, and that there was no discernable knowledge gap between the undergrad students and the MBA students who participated. Senior undergraduate student Kevin Gandhi said the competition "showed me a new side of business." 

"Students where shocked by the comprehensiveness" of this competition, said Donna Ferrari, director of Full-Time MBA Programs at the College. "It tested their strategic thinking and was a great way to bring practical learning to the program."

This competition helped students fulfill the "11th Hour" aspect of the College's Business of Ambition initiative, which provides LeBow College graduate students with valuable co-curricular opportunities that enable them to explore and stimulate their strengths and passions, and reflect on and discover their true ambitions.