Faizan Bhatty, BBA14, Andrew Graf, BBA14, Edward Mulder, BBA14 and Aakash Parlecha, BBA15 – better known as the Wolf Pack – represented Goizueta at the 10th annual McDonough-Hilltop Business Strategy Challenge at Georgetown University, February 5-9, 2014. Lee Pasackow, Business Librarian, accompanied the group as the faculty advisor.
The opening ceremony at the City Tavern Club, founded in 1796, was the perfect setting to mingle with the 19 other teams, nine of which hailed from non-U.S. schools including Maastricht and Thammasat University, both Goizueta partner schools.
The KPMG session on Thursday gave tips on presentation style and structure. The president of Plexus Consulting Group talked about the rewards and challenges of working with non-profit companies.
Finally at 1:00 pm the teams learned that the client for 2014 was The National Industries for the Blind, based in Virginia. The strategic intelligence team discussed their mission of providing employment opportunities for the blind and severely visually impaired individuals nationwide. The teams were tasked with developing innovative models to increase employment beyond NIB’s traditional government contracts. After a one hour client Q&A, the teams started their 36 hour preparation. All slide decks were due, Saturday at 6 am.
Saturday morning Goizueta was first in their bracket. “Understanding the case packet required more than just strategic thinking,” according to Faizan. “Our diverse backgrounds in finance, consulting, marketing, and technology gave us the edge that we needed to drive our recommendations forward, and back them up with substantial data.” The team recommended that NIB focus on service industries and shift to manufacturing specialized products. Solid recommendations, flawless delivery and adroit handling of the Q&A impressed the audience and left the team very hopeful. “Knowing each other’s strengths before the competition was vital to our success,” according to Aakash. “Being individually responsible for various aspects of the recommendations, we were able to leverage our skill-sets in a way that added the most value to the project.” At noon, the finalists were announced: Maastricht, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Texas, Austin and EMORY! The students tweaked their presentation and presented third. A bit of levity ensued during the Q&A, easing the tensions while increasing the feeling that we were closer to the gold. “There was a lot of trust amongst the Wolf Pack,” remarked Eddie. “We were brothers, fearless of other teams.”
During the final banquet, emails were exchanged and plans were made to celebrate in the evening. Finally the moment of reckoning: UT-Austin was fourth, Emory secured third place, Maastricht came in second and UNC got the gold.
“In five years, this event will largely be forgotten,” noted Andrew. “The trophy will be tucked away, the presence of our teammates will have disappeared from Goizueta, and our recommendations will just be slides. However, the memories from this trip will stay with us. We were extremely fortunate to have a business school that invested in the Wolfpack. Our advisor eye-rolled our jokes, put up with our nonsense, and supported us at every step of the way.”
“Representing Goizueta was an incredible experience,” summed up Eddie. “I encourage other BBAs to apply for such competitions.”