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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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March 2, 2015

Case Competitions Prepare MBA Students for the Real World

University of Nebraska–Lincoln students enrolled in the MBA program have the opportunity to participate in case competitions in order to apply what they have learned to solve a problem. In February 2015, a team of four UNL students competed in the National Sports Federation Case Cup competition in Cleveland, Ohio, and focused on NASCAR’s difficulty reaching millennials.
MBA students Conor McDermott of Carter Lake, Iowa; Michael Yarldey of Lincoln, Nebraska; Alexander Gansebom of Osmond, Nebraska and Courtney Diegel of Lincoln were on the UNL NSF Cup team this year and benefited from the case competition environment.
“The competition was a great exercise in problem solving,” McDermott said. “I have a tendency to get tied down with a scholastic mindset, so the opportunity to confront a concrete issue was energizing.”
The team met weekly to prepare for the competition and figure out specific roles for each member. During preparation, each team member practiced opening and closing the presentation, presenting data and other roles in each of their weekly meetings during the month leading up to the competition. Their presentation was organized to include some of everyone’s ideas and to best utilize each of their abilities.
All four team members are enrolled in the Juris Doctor/MBA joint-degree program, and were able to develop skills necessary for both degrees by participating in the competition.
2015 NSF team
2015 NSF team
“The sports forum gave me an opportunity to apply both my JD and MBA background to a new problem,” Yarldey said. “I learned how to work in a team environment and how to maximize the time we had to solve a problem”
Competing in case competitions is just one benefit of the joint JD/MBA program. Earning both degrees at the same time is another.
“I am drawn to a career in corporate law,” McDermott said. “The dual degree will help me to relate to business owners and address their concerns while drawing from legal framework, and combining the degrees will make me more marketable to potential future employers.”
Chad Mardesen, assistant professor of practice in marketing, was the faculty advisor for the team.
“The NSF Case Cup team did a fantastic job,” Mardesen said. “The case itself was complicated and deliverables were somewhat unclear. The students were exceptional at distilling the case down to its barest essential and coming up with marketing activities that were measurable and achievable. The team represented UNL well against some very strong competition.”