Four Wisconsin MBA students—Paul Hlavaty, Justin Hawkins, Todd Bailey, and Michael Mostek—defeated nine other schools to win first place at the Big Ten Plus Case Competition on April 13.
The competition was held from April 11-13 at the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Hawkins also won the best presenter award, beating out 35 contenders.
The case competition, like others, gives students 24 hours to analyze a complex business case and develop a strategy to improve the problem or issue. At this competition, the groups were given an Italian restaurant business to analyze, which provided Hawkins a new view into the restaurant industry.
“I learned that good corporate strategy is critical to success for any organization,” Hawkins said. “It seemed like other teams were only focusing on marketing, but I think our team tried to make sure we focused on creating a strategy and having marketing be a piece of that strategy.”
At the end of the 24 hours, the teams presented their recommendations to a panel of industry and academic experts.
Hlavaty said the competition exceeded his expectations for the experience.
“As a live case, the competition simulated a real crucial problem,” he said. “The possibility that our solution could influence the company increased the stakes and pressure.”
Hawkins felt the pressure as a presenter, having only received 90 minutes of sleep before he presented for the first time.
“I tried to ensure that I was expressing excitement about the subject,” he said. “While I was tired, I must have just been running on adrenaline.”
The Wisconsin MBA has participated in the annual competition for 21 years. A Wisconsin School of Business team last took home the top prize in 1995.