Making an Impact One Case Competition at a Time

PROVO, Utah – Oct 14, 2020 – During this last summer, the Deans Office of the BYU Marriott School of Business decided to brainstorm ways for students to gain new experiences in a nontraditional way. The Deans Office wanted to give students the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and skills, and potentially win fun prizes. The solution? Teaming up with DaVita, a kidney-disease healthcare company, to put on a completely virtual case competition.

The winners of this unique competition consisted of Katana Billingsley, a junior studying pre-business from Queen Creek, Arizona; Michael Harris, a senior majoring in statistics from Farmington, Utah; and Andre Marrey, a senior studying mechanical engineering from São Paulo, Brazil.

"From conducting industry research to countless hours spent in Zoom meetings with my team, the DaVita Case Competition was an outstanding experience for BYU students this summer. It enabled us to hone our analytical skills and have a sense of what working in the healthcare industry is,” says  Marrey.

A total of ninety-six students from various majors across campus in teams of three to five set out to help DaVita for the chance to win cash prizes and gain a résumé-building opportunity. DaVita provided students with a prompt — an issue the company is currently facing—while the Deans Office would provide cash prizes.

The week-long competition began with a virtual welcoming event where DaVita presented the prompt to the teams. Students immediately began working to solve the presented issue. Over the next three days, DaVita provided office hours via Zoom video conferencing when DaVita employees could answer any questions the BYU Marriott teams had.

“I was worried about signing up for a case competition without any preselected teammates,” says Billingsley. While initially nervous to join the competition, Billingsley’s worries were calmed by her interaction with the other students assigned to her team. “I remembered that everyone at BYU Marriott is talented, and I knew that if students entered the case competition, they probably wanted to learn and grow like me,” she says. “The competition was fast and intense and required research into aspects of subjects I knew nothing about, but the experience helped me to learn new skills and better understand problems people face every day.”

After working together in their groups for a few days, each of the twenty-three teams presented in a preliminary round of judging. Each team was given up to three minutes to present in front of members from DaVita on their group’s solution to the issue. “Due to the short timeline, my team met every day brainstorming solutions, designing PowerPoints, and practicing our presentation,” says Billingsley. “This competition helped me to realize the importance of listening to what a company needs and presenting a solution within those guidelines that reflect the company's values.”

After some deliberation, DaVita selected the top five teams to advance to the final round. The final round required groups to delve into more detail about their solutions and offer more in-depth explanations than what they previously had revealed to judges. The top three teams were awarded cash prizes by the Deans Office to split between team members. Other participants were given prizes provided by DaVita.

“After months of quarantine where I felt like I was not making an impact, this competition helped me feel like I was finally able to do something meaningful—not just for me but for others,” says Billingsley. “This experience helped me to expand my knowledge and gave me the opportunity to work alongside similarly dedicated people.  The members of my team all had different majors, providing different perspectives and interests which I believe led to the overall success of the team.”

Students participated in a virtual case competition with DaVita.
Students participated in a virtual case competition with DaVita.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Madi Wickham