McDonough School of Business
News Story

Executive Challenge Brings High Stakes of Board Rooms to MBA Classrooms


One case study to read. Two and a half hours to prepare. Four senior executives to persuade. Twenty minutes on the clock.

These are the high stakes of the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Executive Challenge, a day-long role-play case competition for all first-year, Full-time MBA students that also serves as the final exam for the Leadership Communications course.

The challenge simulates a day in the life of a senior leader. It tests students on what they have learned in class, particularly in the areas of leadership communication, influence, motivation, and relationship-building skills. In order to ensure that the cases are realistic, alumni play board members, investors, and senior executives, challenging students to deal with them in real-world difficult conversations, then providing feedback on their performance.

“With the explosion of big data, it’s not enough for our graduates to provide just factual evidence to support their assertions. Our graduates need to be able to take a great idea and influence outcomes, motivate others, and build and maintain relationships in the process,” said Evelyn Williams, teaching professor of management, who spearheads the Executive Challenge.

Alumni judges cheer at the start of the 2018 Georgetown McDonough Executive Challenge

This year, nearly 140 alumni returned to the Hilltop on Friday, April 27, to play these C-suite members and rate the MBAs on their ability to execute task management, process communication, and relationship management.

“Our alumni are CEOs, VPs, entrepreneurs, and founders of leading organizations around the world. They are able to bring years of experience, advice, and perspectives to help our students prepare for future leadership roles,” said Prashant Malaviya, senior associate dean of MBA programs.

Through the Executive Challenge, alumni became co-educators for the day and got an up-close look at how the school prepares current students to become principled leaders.

“The students today have been simply outstanding. The fact that they could wake up in the morning, get this case material, and just hours later be on their feet and on their game is impressive,” said Elizabeth Ross-Ronchi (MBA’99).

All of McDonough Executive Challenge participants and the Dean celebrate on the stairs of the Hariri building

“In my entire educational experience, I’ve never done anything like this. This is so cutting-edge,” said ChiChi Okonjo (MBA’96). “To see Georgetown thinking out of the box like this is exciting.”

This also is the first year that students in the Leadership Communications course were coached by Leadership Fellows, high-performing second-year MBA students who received additional leadership development experience. Leadership Fellows guided their student teams throughout the day and also provided feedback on their performance.

At the end of the day, student teams with the highest scores were honored at an awards and networking reception.

Case Winners

  • Case 1 – Saxa Team 12: Ashwin Korde, Jason Ufland
  • Case 2 – Hoya Team 4: Susi Eckelmann, Chris Thornton
  • Case 3 – Hoya Team 1: Chester Tynes, Cameron Dawson

Cohort Winners

  • Saxa Team 4 (overall first place): Amir Pilehvar Mohammadabadi, Ximena Gonzalez Rojas, Abhigyan Smit, Spencer Olson, Pete Mehlert, Liana Presser
  • Hoya Team 1: Gaby Borray, Silvio Agostinho, Kevin McNamee, Brittany Porter, Chester Tynes, Cameron Dawson
  • Blue Team 11: Jimmy Hughes, Anirudh Venkatesh, Kevin Geiser, Yating Hu, Amanda Lane
  • Gray Team 5: Colin Miller, Carlos Consuegra, Ben Levine, Karl Delatour, Chris Greer, Ramish Bilgrami