A team of first-year MBA students from UNC Kenan-Flagler won the 11th annual Deloitte MBA National Case Competition.
The UNC Kenan-Flagler team – Neal DeCroo, Anushree Godbole, Olivia Koziol and Shawn Reid, all Class of 2022 – won with a thorough analysis and innovative solution to the business problem. They earned a combined scholarship of $20,000 for their winning presentation and internship offers to work at Deloitte.
“It was an absolute privilege to work alongside my brilliant teammates and present our business case to the judges,” says Godbole. “Competing on a national stage was challenging as well as an incredible learning experience.”
The competition – virtual for the first time – was held Jan. 7-9, 2021. Sixteen teams developed strategic proposals and presentations to answer a business challenge posed by Banza. The consumer-packaged-goods company uses creative ways to challenge conventional wisdom around traditional dishes. It uses chickpeas to upgrade favorite comfort foods – pasta, macaroni and cheese, and pizza – typically made with wheat, corn or rice – and sometimes considered “guilty pleasures.”
The teams presented recommendations that answered the question: “What’s next for Banza: Where and how they should innovate?” to a panel of 21 judges of top company, industry and Deloitte leaders.
“We’re so proud of our students who beat out tough competition from other top schools,” says Linda Vo, associate director of career consulting at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
More than 1,000 students from leading MBA programs across the U.S. entered regional competitions; 64 advanced to the national finals. New York University Stern School of Business took second place, and the University of Michigan and the University of Texas followed in third and fourth place, respectively.
In addition to the winners, finalists included teams from Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Northwestern, University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, Chicago, Virginia and Vanderbilt.
“Case competitions gives students experience in solving unstructured problems, which will be a key part of their jobs, in a hands-on, competitive setting and demonstrate they can perform the job,” Vo says. “Employers get to engage with students in a different way than the interview process and witness their ability to be creative, collaborative, data driven, and adaptive. Our team winning this competition shows that they excel in all of these areas.”
“This is exciting for our students, our consulting faculty and the whole MBA program,” says Professor Alex Dickey (BSBA ’87), who is the MBA consulting concentration leader and STAR program faculty advisor. “I was lucky to have all four students in my Introduction to Consulting Skills and Frameworks course and watch them compete internally before they advanced to the nationals.”
Deloitte is a great partner for UNC Kenan-Flagler, Dickey says. “I am always impressed by the number of our alumni who work at Deloitte who support the case competition as coaches, judges or participate in the announcement/celebration of winners. It was great to see the screen full of our alumni at 5 p.m. on a Friday as the winners were announced for the UNC Kenan-Flagler round.”
“Deloitte Consulting has been, and continues to be, one of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s most important strategic partners across industries,” says Jarrett Brandon Early, associate director of MBA employer engagement and recruiting at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “Not only is Deloitte one of the leading hirers of our MBA talent, but they also go above and beyond in engaging with our students through early connection activities, information sessions, office hours, diversity panels and career treks. Most importantly, Deloitte dedicates significant time to helping prepare our students for careers across consultancies through case preparation and case-off judging. Our students’ success at this year’s National Case Competition is a testament to this partnership, illustrating the effectiveness of Deloitte’s engagement and the dedication of UNC Kenan-Flagler students to develop and showcase their skills for one of our most valued employers.”
The UNC Kenan-Flagler team and all other finalists should be extremely proud of their achievements, says Katie Dye, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Given the open-ended nature of the case presented by Banza to the teams, I am confident this year’s students will go on to make a significant impact in business as they showed a great deal of creativity and strategic insights in their responses.”
The Deloitte Foundation prepares the next generation of workforce leaders through a range of experiential learning opportunities, says Seán Morris, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and member of the Deloitte Foundation board of directors. “As a real-world extension of the classroom, the MBA National Case Competition enables students to apply keen insight and team skills to solve a complex business challenge. The exceptional talent each student brings to this annual competition and the ability to pivot to a virtual environment this year, continues to inspire.”