For a team of four first-year Drexel LeBow MBA students, questions from a panel of business leaders were only the second-most difficult challenge they faced at a recent case competition.
Their biggest obstacle? Traveling from Philadelphia to Buffalo in the middle of a nor’easter.
Undaunted by the travel or the judges’ questions, the Drexel LeBow team ended up winning second place—and a $3,000 prize—at the inaugural University at Buffalo MBA Case Competition, hosted by the University at Buffalo School of Management and sponsored by Dun & Bradstreet.
“It was an all-star group, and it was a huge learning experience for us,” said Cory Terzis, who teamed up with Joseph Dipre, Dhruv Gandhi and Zach Hauck on Drexel’s team.
The team initially submitted a short but detailed response to a case question for the competition’s first round, qualifying them to travel to Buffalo for the March 3 competition. After completing that first step, Terzis said they sought advice from Suresh Chandran, Associate Clinical Professor of Management and their professor for MGMT 510.
“He gave us some priceless feedback about the kinds of questions we could expect and how to prepare for them,” Terzis says.
“We asked our friends in our cohort, ‘What didn’t we think of? What’s unclear?’,” Gandhi added.
The team’s travel to western New York started at 4:30 a.m. on March 2, and when their train to New York City was cancelled, they had to take a car through Lyft instead. Traveling north from New York City to Albany and across upstate New York via Amtrak was slow due to the weather conditions.
After decompressing from a long day of travel, team presentations began Saturday, each one addressing four phases of a case dealing with a potential international expansion by a German-based business: Data analytics, strategy, marketing and financials, including sales.
Hauck, who worked in forensic accounting before entering the Drexel LeBow MBA program, headed up the strategy portion of the expansion model. “I have some experience with having to explain very complex things very clearly, so I felt I could get across what we were going to do and how we were going to do it,” he said.
Dipre, who led off by the presentation using his own data model, also won an individual award, taking home $250 as top presenter.
Dipre, who worked in finance before coming to LeBow, said he was “absolutely surprised” to receive the individual honor.
“I felt we were all presenting well, and it was a huge honor,” he said. “I’ve never considered presenting one of my major strengths, but since starting the MBA, I’ve definitely improved and gotten more confident.”
“Joe’s data model was so informative and so precise,” Gandhi said. “He was the leader, and everyone who followed him just had that flow.”
A team from the University at Buffalo took first place, with teams from Baruch College and the University of Illinois rounding out the top four. Encouraged by the team’s success, Terzis said he’s looking into having LeBow host a case competition of its own—hopefully during better weather conditions—later this year.