A team from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business placed second out of 14 teams in the 2018 SEC MBA Case Competition held April 12-14 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. The team, including members Michelle Davis, Carson Hollingsworth, Morgan Sowers and Abbey Wegman, won $6,000.
The Haslam team, Sowers said, worked on a case to help the Louisiana-based restaurant chain Raising Cane's move their brand from an emerging stage to one more established in the market.
“We focused on ways to develop brand loyalty while staying true to the company’s unique core mission, vision and values,” Sowers said. “We were careful to incorporate their focus on quality, a cool crew and culture, and community involvement.”
Sowers credited the guidance of Randy Bradley, assistant professor of information systems and supply chain management, with helping the team with extensive preparations.
“We went into the competition with an extremely comprehensive understanding of the company, as well as approximately 300 pre-built slides and 75 pages of research notes,” Sowers said. “We were able to utilize all this when we were provided the case prompt and were able to use our 24-hour prep time efficiently in order to dig deeper and create a story around our recommendation. That helped to set us apart.”
Michelle Davis said that intense preparation resulted in the competitive edge.
“Entering into the competition with an arsenal of material allowed us to think deeply during the short time frame of the competition,” Davis said. “I am incredibly proud of our team for representing the Haslam MBA program. Because I am pursuing a career in consulting, this competition gave me the opportunity to practice critical thinking and presentation skills that will be directly applied to my internship this summer and beyond.”
Tara Presnell, director of student services for graduate business programs, said she is excited about the team’s strong showing, especially because Haslam will host next year’s SEC Case Competition.
“The students did an amazing job, and I am so proud of each of them and all the hard work they put in,” Presnell said. “This placement has really helped to generate energy on campus in preparation for next year’s SEC Case Competition, which we’re excited to be hosting.”