Confidence To Win

by Sarah Small

A team of four students traveled to New Brunswick, New Jersey on April 9 to compete in the national round of the Johnson & Johnson case competition, where they earned first place and made a name for ILLINOIS in a relatively unchartered company for the College.

“We weren’t exactly favored to win, mostly because we did not have the exposure other schools did to Johnson & Johnson,” said Angela Jiang, junior in Finance and Accountancy. “ILLINOIS is not a large recruitment school for the company and the amount of exposure we received was a natural reflection of that. Regardless, we still walked into the competition with confidence that we could win.”

Participating in the competition were two veterans to the Johnson & Johnson competition: Jiang and Kyle Branyik, senior in Accountancy, and two first-timers in the competition: Alex Florea, senior in Finance, and Anny Ying, junior in Finance and Information Technology.

Branyik said he and Jiang were on the ILLINOIS team that placed second the previous year and they wanted to get another chance to win the competition.

“Naturally, we wanted another chance to compete on the national level and put the University of Illinois on the map with a first place win,” Branyik said.

Prior to competing nationally, the team won the regional competition that allowed them to advance.

“Our team was ecstatic that we were able to return for a second year, and jump to first place,” Branyik said. “Out of 10 teams, we were the only team outside of the East coast. It was a great opportunity to present our recommendation in front of corporate executives and showcase the strength of our business program at the University of Illinois”  

The case required the students to evaluate three strategic options for a large pharmaceutical company; they completed financial and strategic analysis on each option before making their recommendations to a panel of judges. The students prepared their solution at the regional level and presented the exact same case at the national competition.

“The competition tested for a balance of quantitative and qualitative analysis that was able to serve as a pitch, but also as a feasible investment proposal,” Jiang said.

ILLINOIS competed against nine other teams from schools such as Rutgers University, the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, Florida International University and others.

The students worked as a team on past case competitions, and both Branyik and Jiang attributed their success to the team members’ ability to collaborate and work well together.

“Our team’s success was a combination of excellent teamwork and diversity,” Branyik said. “When dividing the presentation we tailored it to each of our strengths which allowed us to give the best in-depth qualitative analysis with an unbeatable financial analysis and projections to support our recommendation.”