Long Days in the Tanner Building Lead to Big Win

PROVO, Utah – May 12, 2022 – Spending a Saturday in the Tanner Building may not be everybody’s preference, but for BYU Marriott School of Business students Claire Bird, Katie Bahr, Mara Hansen, and aspiring HRM student Kyle Campbell, their all-day brainstorming session in March was the first step toward winning the 2022 Utah Society of Human Resources (SHRM) Case Competition. The competition was held on March 27, but the team’s preparation started a week earlier with the arrival of their case study.  

Armed with early-morning bagels that turned into late-night snacks, the team prepped for its competition. “We were kind of thrown into the fire because our team leader, Claire, was the only one who had experience with case competitions,” says Campbell, a sophomore from Decatur, Alabama, applying to the HRM program. However, despite their inexperience, the team members drew on concepts and principles they had previously learned in business classes at BYU Marriott to solve this year’s case problem about managing employees returning from remote work to in-person work.  

“The case competition was a great opportunity to apply all the things we learned in class,” shares Bahr, an HRM senior from Bismarck, North Dakota. “It can be hard to make what we’re learning stick and apply to real-world scenarios, so this case competition was a good way to see how the theories we've learned about could be applied in real-world action.” 

That Saturday morning, a week before the competition, the team started with a whiteboard. “We just threw everything we knew up on the board,” explains Bird, an HRM senior from Rexburg, Idaho. “We used a couple of methods from our change management class to figure out the underlying problems. From there, we started coming up with solutions. That step required a whole other whiteboard.”  

For some team members, the late nights that week in March were the hardest part of the competition. “We had been in the same room for three hours straight, and all of our brains were just mush,” recalls Hansen, an HRM senior from Orem. “But if we hadn’t thought about every single possible solution, we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.” 

The late nights were worth it when everything started falling into place. “My favorite part of the case competition was probably the feeling we had when the solution was coming together,” says Campbell. “I was like ‘I don't know if we're going to win, but I think we have a good thing here.’” 

After a week of preparation, several idea-filled whiteboards, and a last-minute pep talk, the team members presented their solution at the 2022 Utah SHRM Case Competition at Utah Valley University. When the judges announced that Bird’s team had won, she says her team members were surprised and honored. “I am super proud of our team and the work that we put into the competition,” says Bird. 

The team’s faculty advisor, Cody Reeves an associate professor in the human resource management program, was delighted to see the team shine in the eyes of the judges and the HR professionals in attendance at the competition. “It was clear from my conversations with everyone at the competition that the case problem was exactly what employers have been focused on for their respective companies,” he says. “The positive impressions that our students left on these professionals were evident as many of them were eager to connect with our students following the competition.” 

All four members of the team express their appreciation for the hard work their teammates put into the preparation for the competition. “I could not have asked for better group members,” says Campbell. “They are so knowledgeable and talented."

Reeves concurs. “Based on what I saw,” he says, “the world of HR will be in good hands with these students.” 

HRM students Kyle Campbell, Mara Hansen, Claire Bird, and Katie Bahr at the 2022 Utah SHRM Case Competition.
Kyle Campbell, Mara Hansen, Claire Bird, and Katie Bahr at the 2022 Utah SHRM Case Competition. Photo courtesy of Katie Bahr.
A whiteboard with ideas from a brainstorm during the Utah SHRM Case Competition
One of the whiteboards the team filled with ideas during their preparation for the SHRM Case Competition. Photo courtesy of Claire Bird.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Liesel Allen