McDonough School of Business
News Story

McDonough MBA Students Win First Place at ROMBA Case Competition

In October, four MBA students Dan McMahon (MBA’21), Katherine Jo (MBA’21), Alex Williams (MBA’21), and Julia Liedel (MBA’21) won first place as a team in a case competition at the 2020 Reaching Out MBA Conference. 

ROMBA, hosted by Reaching Out MBA, is an annual MBA conference held nationally for LGBTQ+ business students. Each year, the conference headlines a case competition featuring different challenges sponsored by various companies. The conference typically receives over 2,000 MBA students each year, and over 300 employers offering jobs for LGBTQ+ talent. 

This year, Bain sponsored the competition. They chose a case concerning the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), which was looking for meaningful ways to build a more inclusive ecosystem to integrate women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups into the broader cleantech industry. 

The winning team’s strategy focused on a four-pronged plan surrounding engagement, recruitment, retention, and development as core diversity, equity, and inclusion targets for the company. In their plan, they emphasized speaking to the LACI employees in their language and integrating their strategy throughout the organization and not just with one specific member on the board of executives. 

In answering what experiences the teammates were able to contribute to help strengthen their strategy, McMahon said, “Everyone in the team had an LGBTQ+ identity, and knew what it was like to be underrepresented in the workplace. We used our knowledge of working with each other to reflect on how people act on a team.”

The team cited Ella Washington, professor of practice at Georgetown McDonough, as their biggest resource in preparing for the competition. After taking her Leading Teams for Performance and Impact class through the MBA program, the students drew inspiration from a framework they learned about belonging versus value in uniqueness, so they met with Washington to gather advice on finalizing their presentation. 

Washington highlighted the importance of integrating business strategy with the diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy — to ensure that people’s voices are heard within the office and that every employee feels a high sense of inclusion. 

“Professor Washington helped to frame the issues facing many corporations who have a non-diverse workforce — guiding us towards an applicable solution for the prompt,” said Williams. “Her energy was also infectious! You can see her passion in just one conversation and it was an incredible experience working with her.”

The virtual competition consisted of two rounds.The first round featured a 10 minute presentation against 17 teams followed by feedback and questions. After completing the first round, the group made it to the final four where they were required to shorten their presentation to just five minutes. Hours later the Georgetown students were announced the first place title along with a $5,000 prize.