MBA Team Wins Second in National Competition

PROVO, Utah – Mar 27, 2019 – A team of MBA students representing the BYU Marriott School of Business won second place at the Adam Smith Society's Smith Soc Case Comp against nine other top business schools—beating out the likes of Yale, Georgetown, and Columbia Business School to win $4,000. The team’s success was no accident, and they were prepared to tackle any problem the competition would throw at them.

The Adam Smith Society is a chapter-based network of MBA students and professionals who debate the benefits of capitalism. Through the competition, the society hopes to provide an opportunity for students to develop a potential business solution to an issue with ethical, political, and philosophical implications. This year the case addressed driverless cars. The competition, which began in 2018, was first hosted by the BYU Marriott chapter of the society, and this year was hosted by Rice University in Houston.

The team was comprised of four MBA students: second-year Boston Blake from Little Rock, Arkansas; first-year Ruchika Goel from Rourkela, India; first-year Josh Brooks from Mesa, Arizona; and second-year Jeremy Banner from Valdez, Alaska. Because BYU Marriott hosted the competition last year, Brooks and Banner were aware of the opportunity and knew they wanted to compete. The two of them reached out to Blake and Goel to join the team. “When you’re working together, everyone’s confident and excited,” says Blake. “We had great team synergy.”

The case was a problem related to automation that companies currently face, and the team was ready to work hard to present its best solution. Prior to receiving the case, the students had already scheduled times they would be able to meet, divvied out responsibilities, and chosen their slide deck.

Over the course of six days, team members estimate they put in about forty-five hours as a team, developing a viable solution and a twelve-slide presentation, and practicing extensively to deliver the contents effectively. “We had a safe space for unlimited ideas,” says Goel. “We evaluated each one of them and, in the process, came up with a very unique hypothesis.”

The team presented twice for judges on the last weekend in February, including only a short time after finding out they had advanced to the final round. “When we do well we have fun, because succeeding puts BYU Marriott on the map, plus doing well gets us noticed a little bit,” says Blake.

Out of the nine schools competing, Blake says that BYU Marriott offered a unique recommendation. “Our recommendation hinged on the fact that we felt it was the quickest and easiest way for the companies to quickly get to market with a product in a space where no one would be. We had the only different solution, everyone else presented the same recommendation,” says Blake.

For Blake, the case competition opportunities BYU Marriott offers have provided useful experiential learning. “My first year I did about ten case competitions,” says Blake. Case competitions provide students the chance to try and solve real-life problems and the opportunity to learn how to work with other people to strategically implement a solution.

Blake says that in order to successfully solve, present, and win cases, a specific skill set is necessary. He’s grateful to BYU Marriott for providing training for all aspects of the competition he and his team competed at, and giving him and other students countless opportunities to develop those skills. “We worked well as a team and had practiced a lot,” says Blake, “down to the way we stood, not using notes but using fluid transitions. That’s the kind of preparation BYU Marriott gives you.”

That type of preparation brings about results BYU Marriott students can be proud of. “I’m always proud to represent BYU Marriott,” says Blake. “We can compete against the best schools in the country and come out successful.”

MBA team poses at the Adam Smith Society Competition.
A BYU MBA teams wins second place at the Smith Soc Case Comp. Photo courtesy of Boston Blake

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Maren Cline