MBA Students Take Lead on Inaugural Graduate Case Competition through Collaborative Effort of Students, Faculty and Alumni

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In a unique collaboration among students, faculty, and alumni, a new graduate case competition has been born.

On November 18, five teams of George Mason University School of Business graduate student finalists competed for $2,000 in cash prizes at the Inaugural School of Business Graduate Case Competition Finals. Held on the Arlington campus, teams consisted of students from the MBAMS in ManagementMS in Technology Management, and MS in Management of Secure Information Systems programs.

Second year MBA student cohort reps Deb Duncan and Patrick Powell brought the idea to life after fellow MBA students attended a case study competition at a local university. Duncan and Powell learned that Mason’s School of Business did not have their own graduate level case study competition and felt it would be a good addition to the program.

Duncan, who served as the lead student organizer said, “We thought it would be a good way to support not only our own cohort, but other graduate students as well. When we brought up the idea with the administrative staff, they immediately scheduled a meeting to talk about making it happen.”

In addition to Duncan and Powell, who is also the MBA Student Association president, the planning team included Victoria Grady, assistant professor of management and director of MBA/MSM graduate programs, Samantha Graves, program manager for the MBA and MSM programs, and Mahesh Joshi, associate professor of global strategy and entrepreneurship and director of research & practice for the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Joshi also served as the MC for the event.

“We saw this as an opportunity to give the students some real practice and build their confidence to take part in other regional case competitions offered in the spring,” said Graves. “The case used for the competition was an organizational behavior case, so it put into practice what many of the teams had learned in their first module, opening it up to all graduate programs.”

Eight teams of students participated in round one of the competition, while five teams advanced to the finals. WinningGradCaseCompetition 96 teams for first place were both from the Masters in Management Program. Business As Usual consisted of Anne-Marie Lloyd, Caroline Stanton and Pauline Yeboah. Team SAS consisted of Sarah Brasington, Sarah Long, and Andrew Slupek. Both teams split the winning prize amount evenly.

Prize money was donated by alumni judges, Vijay Venkateswaran ’90, CEO, Viventum Incorporated, Daryl Wieland MBA’96, director of strategic planning at Northrop Grumman Mission System, and Jerry Grossman, former managing director & co-head of Aerospace, Defense & Government (ADG) Group at Houlihan Lokey and School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council Board Member. David Kravitz, professor of Management, sat on the judging panel on behalf of the School of Business.

Powell said the experience was amazing. “We had five teams in the final round, each with their own perspective on the case study. The judges wound up picking two teams to tie for first place and, to make it fair, one judge donated more prize money so the teams could split it evenly.”

Independent presentation consultant, Ted May, also provided feedback to all the teams after the competition to help them further develop their presentation skills.

“I think this was a good opportunity for the students to immediately put what they’ve learned in class into practice. It’s one thing to learn something and quite another thing to actually use it, and this was a good way to build that experience,” said Duncan. “It was such a great experience for this project to have so much support – not only in terms of money and resources, but also in terms of everyone’s time and effort,” said Duncan.

With the success of this event, the group is hoping to offer another competition in the spring.

Grady said, “It was a phenomenal collaborative effort with the leadership truly coming from our MBA student leaders.”

Interested in helping to the plan the next competition? Contact Deb Duncan at for more information.

Written by Jennifer Anzaldi. Originally posted on 

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