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K-State Today

April 18, 2018

K-State MBA students take second place at the Big 12 MBA Case Competition

By Brent Fritzemeier

The K-State MBA team comprised of (from left to right) Dallas Gaither, Richard Petrie, Josh Barlow and Blair Kocher

A team of Kansas State University Master of Business Administration students took second place at last weekend's Big 12 MBA Case Competition, hosted by the K-State College of Business Administration.

The competition, which is in its 12th year, invites teams of four MBA students from each of the 10 schools that make up the Big 12 Conference to compete against one another in a live case study. This year's case presented teams with a business challenge facing competition sponsor AT&T, followed by a 24-hour period for teams to complete their analysis. The teams then presented their findings to a panel of judges, with 15 minutes of presentations followed by an additional 15 minutes of question and answer session.

As part of their second-place finish, the K-State MBA team comprised of Dallas Gaither, Blair Kocher, Richard Petrie and Josh Barlow were awarded a cash prize of $3,000. The second-place finish marks the third year in a row that K-State has taken home second place honors from the competition.

"I don't think most people understand what an extreme undertaking it is to compete in this case competition," Kocher said. "To me, this is the true test of an MBA student. It's a culmination of everything you learn in business. You have to be able to organize a ton of information in a creative way, all in a less than 24 hours. Then create a compelling, polished presentation with that information on less sleep than usual while cooperating with three other people, in confined spaces. There's nothing else like it."

In addition to the team awards, there also were two pairs of individual awards worth $250 that were up for grabs in the competition. Kocher was one of two competitors to earn the Best Presenter award, with Gaither securing one of two Best Q&A awards.

"It was an honor to be a participant in the 12th annual Big 12 Case Competition," Gaither said. "I will always cherish the opportunity to work closely with colleagues, learn from advisors, and network with my fellow Big 12 MBA students. There is no other platform in academia that tests your strengths, exposes your weaknesses, and forces time management than a case competition. I am so thankful to be a part of Kansas State and truly humbled to be awarded Best Q&A. This experience has been one in a million, and I will remember this weekend for the rest of my life."

The team was coached by management instructor Sabine Turnley, and was advised by associate dean for academic programs Chwen Sheu and graduate program coordinator Lynn Waugh.

"The K-State team's analysis was right on target but I feel that their unique way of presenting their recommendations to the judges as well as their composure and professionalism during the Q&A session made them stand out, despite the fact that the other teams performed at a really high level," Turnley said. "I am so proud of their accomplishments."

Hosting the competition in partnership with AT&T also allowed K-State faculty and staff the opportunity to build relationships with the company. Over the course of the three-day event, AT&T representatives were on hand to speak to students and meet with faculty members from the business and engineering colleges to exchange various partnership initiatives.

"The College of Business was honored to host this Big 12 conference event, and I am very pleased that the event was a huge success," Sheu said. "I hope the success goes beyond the graduate student case competition, and is able to extend to further academic collaborations with AT&T."

"Many months of planning went in to this event, but its ultimate success was due to the fact that everyone — administrators, faculty, staff, graduate students and our terrific IT department — all pitched in to work on the multitude of tasks that brought it to fruition," Waugh added. "We would like to offer many thanks and kudos to AT&T for their generous support of information and funding for this event."