FSC Students Awarded First Place at 2019 Strategic MBA Case Competition

Dec 6, 2019

by Sara Ramick '20

A team of MBA students from Florida Southern College was awarded first prize in the 6th Annual Southeastern Region Strategic MBA Case Competition. This is the second year in a row in which FSC has received this honor. 

The competition, which is hosted by FSC’s Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise, was held on Nov. 15 and 16. A total of nine teams from seven college and university programs participated in the competition, including graduate students from the University of Alabama, Florida State University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

This year, the case was supplied by the JBT Corporation (Lakeland division), which has been the primary site of the company’s citrus operations since 1941. Teams were tasked with identifying new market trends related to the focus of JBT’s Lakeland division. Their plans were pitched anonymously to a panel of judges, which consisted of representatives from the company. The competition was also considered a live case study, meaning that the strategies proposed would be eligible for real-world implementation.

When the award was presented, the clients said the FSC team won because they presented actionable items that the company could work on the following Monday morning, said Dr. Krista Lewellyn, MBA program director and assistant professor of management, who served as one of the coaches for the team. “It was great that we won, but to hear them say that they actually gave something of value, that was really great,” Dr. Lewellyn said.

FSC’s team was composed of MBA students Erin Golotko, Zoe Holmquist, Tom Horton, and Maggie Leach. Eligible students are selected to participate based on their intellectual expertise, presentation skills, ability to collaborate effectively in a team, and overall willingness to commit to the competition. Students had one month prior to the date of the competition to analyze the case and form a business strategy, essentially consisting of the work of a full-time job on top of their already busy schedules.

Faculty members who assisted in coaching FSC’s team included Dr. Lewellyn, Dr. Matt Bernthal, and Prof. Bernard Davis. Dr. Chuck DuVal, associate professor of finance, provided overall insight and served as a liaison between FSC and JBT Corporation. The coaches provided constructive feedback and suggestions when necessary, but the core of the presentation was left up to the team.

“The final strategy is theirs, it’s not the coaches,” said Dr. Bernthal. “They had a lot thrown at them, and I think that’s part of what makes this team so special.”

Leading up to the presentation, the team members spent long hours working on their strategy, tweaking the content, and sharing constructive criticism. Each student’s respective skills and knowledge contributed to the overall success of the team’s efforts.

“We felt like we were working as one cohesive unit towards this one goal,” said Horton. “It was certainly the best team I’ve ever worked on in an academic environment.”

For more information about the 6th Annual Strategic MBA Case Competition, please visit flsouthern.edu/mbacasecomp