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HWS Tops Simon Business Competition

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013

This month, Hobart and William Smith Colleges sent 10 students to the Early Leaders Case Competition (ELCC) at the University of Rochester's Simon Business School, where for the second year running, teams with HWS members placed first, second and third.

According to the Simon Business School's website, the ELCC "brings together current students from various undergraduate institutions to compete in a business case competition designed to simulate decisions faced by business leaders across the globe."

Ten HWS students participated in the competition, three of whom- Julie-Anne Baghajian '15, Britney DeHond '15 and Matthew McPartlon '15-finished on the top three teams, respectively.

Other HWS students-Ruiquian (Richard) Dai '15, Yuqi Ge '14, Jeffrey Hauser '14, Alex Kent '14, Sima Rana '15, Michael Shore '15 and John (J.D.) Steele '15-also competed in the ELCC, joining competitors from University of Rochester, Syracuse University, Colorado State University, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Fredonia, Elmira College, Ithaca College, Knox College, Ursinus College, Bard College and Queens College.

"Some of these schools are sending undergraduate business students," says Warren Hamilton, assistant professor of economics and pre-business adviser. "But we have a great economics department that offers finance, business and economics courses that develop a great perspective and add to critical and analytical thinking. That's why we're so successful."

During the two-day competition, ELCC participants are given a task-this year, a new marketing strategy for Red Bull energy drinks-and 24 hours to accomplish it before presenting to a panel of judges.

"My team's solution was to keep the Red Bull product the same but market the company through creating a television network," says Britney DeHond, an economics major and public policy minor. "Essentially, we created a Red Bull TV Network that would air extreme sporting events, athlete interviews, or anything that we thought fit with the slogan ‘Red Bull Gives You Wings.'"

The idea for a pre-mixed Red Bull cocktail, pitched by the second-place team, was grounded in the "growth patterns in both the energy drink industry and the pre-mixed spirits industry," says McPartlon, a double-major in economics and math, whose team "found that there were huge margins for profit in both of these industries."

The third-place team took a different approach, reconceiving Red Bull's market and product.

"Since Red Bull mainly targets young men, my team decided to create a new line of energy drinks geared towards young women," says Baghajian, also an economics major. "The new line was non-carbonated, better tasting and healthier than the alternatives."

Hobart and William Smith have been involved with the ELCC since 2010, when two Hobart students and a William Smith student represented the Colleges for the first time in the competition.

"I wanted to see them in action," say Hamilton, who went to Rochester "just to watch, to see what competition was all about. It was really exciting."

Since then, HWS student participation-and success-has gained momentum, with a third-place team member in 2011 and five students on the top three teams in 2012.

Hamilton, who has served on the judges' panel for the past three competitions, is trying to boost awareness of and participation in the ELCC through the Early Leaders Round Table, which helps prepare students for the competition.

The ELCC is "a great experience for the students," Hamilton says. "Our students know they're competitive, which bodes well for interviews, jobs, and graduate school, and they come away from it with deeper insight into what students at other schools are doing."

"I was extremely excited to get a hands-on experience that I would not be able to in a classroom," says Baghajian. "The most exciting part of the competition was working on a diverse team....with motivated individuals who came with different backgrounds and majors."

"It was fun to bounce ideas off of each other and really learn each others strengths, personalities, and ways of thinking coming from five completely different backgrounds and educations," says DeHond.

 


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