Georgetown University Business Students Take Second Place at Business Strategy Challenge Case Competition

March 04, 2009

A team of undergraduate students in Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business placed second out of 11 institutions at the invitation-only 2009 Business Strategy Challenge (BSC), held at Georgetown University February 26-28. The BSC, hosted by Hilltop Consultants and Georgetown's McDonough School of Business, is the only undergraduate case competition in the country focused on non-profits. This approach presents unique challenges to case competition competitors, as non-profits have limited resources, different legal requirements, and no profit incentives.

This year's competition featured a case study of The United Way, the nation's largest charity. The mission of the United Way is to improve the education, income, and health of Americans by working with non-profits to implement programs and initiatives. The United Way asked BSC case teams to come up with an effective strategy that it can use to combat its recent strain on funding and resources, given today's economic crisis.

The case competition teams presented to a panel of judges from The United Way and industry consultants. Georgetown's McDonough School of Business team included juniors Katherine Barasch, Max Gaby, Adam Kostrinsky, and Andrew Madorsky.

"The most gratifying aspect of participating in the case competition was the knowledge that our team was developing a workable solution to a real problem. Representatives of The United Way were in attendance to listen to our ideas and give them serious consideration," said Barasch. "We learned a lot, had fun, and contributed to a very worthy cause."

Madorsky added, "As a non-profit, the problems facing the United Way in today's economic crisis required unique solutions. It was essential to form innovative ideas in an effort to boost resources and funding for an organization that measured its success by its impact on the community, rather than its net income."

Participating for the fifth time in the BSC, Georgetown competed against business schools from American University, Carnegie Melon University, New York University, Northeastern University, Southern Methodist University, St. John's University, The University of Florida, The University of Southern California, The University of Washington, and Washington University in St. Louis.

The final round pitted Georgetown's case team against peers from The Foster School of Business at The University of Washington and The Tobin College of Business at St. John's University. The University of Washington finished in first place, and St. John's University took third.

Associate Professor Jeffrey Macher, faculty advisor for the team said, "I am especially proud of this case team as it was composed entirely of MSB Juniors; two of which had no case competition experience. To finish in second place against several other excellent business schools is a testament to the strength of our undergraduate program."

"Overall, the case competition was a dynamic experience that challenged our ability to integrate elements from marketing, strategic management, finance and other disciplines into a cohesive strategy," said Kostrinsky. "Perhaps the greatest challenge was defending our case in the Q&A session, during which time the judges attempted to challenge our assumptions and pick apart our plan."

Gaby added, "The key to our success was effective teamwork over the 36-hour preparation period. We constructively brainstormed ideas, delegated tasks, and maintained a determined focus to result in a creative and professional business strategy for United Way."

The students were selected to represent Georgetown's McDonough School of Business through a rigorous application process that Macher conducted last spring. The students prepared throughout the fall and spring semesters in coaching sessions with faculty members Rebecca Heino, Jacqueline Hoell, and Macher. The school's case teams also participated in competitions this academic year at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the University of Southern California, and the University of Texas.