College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Energy, Optimism, and Enthusiasm Win Another Case Competition


3/16/2011

Those who know John Hedeman, assistant dean of honors, understand how much of an inspiration he is to all College of Business undergraduates. Like his students, he is always on the move, attending classes, functions of all types, and encouraging everyone to achieve the highest standards in everything they do. He embodies the very excellence he brings out in those around him.

It is, therefore, no surprise that shortly after winning the Big Ten Case Competition in Madison, Wisconsin, the four enterprising undergrads who answered his call to compete would call Hedeman with the good news.

Just as he was leaving a student function on the evening of Saturday, March 5, Hedeman’s cell phone rang. On the other end, senior honors students Shaistah Bahrainwalla, Paula Chuchro, James Lenihan, and Henry Soong eagerly delivered word of their success.

A not-too-surprised Hedeman was very happy for the team and the measure of success it represented. “This is yet another feather in the cap of the College of Business, you all did great,” said Hedeman.

Shaistah Bahrainwalla would later describe the competition as easily the most interesting case she had ever worked on with a group. She was obviously proud of her team and the difficult task they mastered together.

The 18-page Harvard Business School case, packed with detailed facts and figures about a company’s history and managerial considerations for global growth, was presented to each of the nine Big Ten school teams. Each team was given three hours to meet and review the case before giving a 12-minute response presentation to seven active and retired senior executives of Accenture, a top global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.

When asked how they were able to do so well, Soong replied, “everything came together, we worked well on the preparation, the case, and the presentation. We were able to break down the case into manageable chunks and simplify it so that anyone could follow along. The judges noted how well we were able to simplify it.”

The group agreed that Business 101 was a key influence that helped them impress the panel of judges. Three of the team had also been teaching assistants for the required freshman course and they knew well the lessons of corporate responsibility, an important theme addressed in the competition.

Perhaps the most important insight gained by the group was in the power of synergy and the way the group worked together as a team. Though their winning efforts were intense and stressful, everyone enjoyed the process and the eventual outcome.

“Dean Hedeman has consistently reinforced three principles, energy, optimism, and enthusiasm,” said Lenihan. “The three-hour limit of this competition was certainly a new challenge for the team—it is draining to analyze a business problem so quickly, and it seems all too easy to lose confidence when the final minutes are approaching. Dean Hedeman has a way of inspiring students and connecting them with opportunities to find their own successes, and through this case competition we were all grateful for his guidance and faith that our team could succeed."

UIUC College of Business