UT’s Haslam Snags First-Ever KeyBank Case Competition First-Place Win

April 3, 2024

A team of MBA students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business earned first place in the 20th annual KeyBank Foundation Minority MBA Student Case Competition. For its win, Haslam’s team received both a first-place trophy and $15,000. Full-time MBA students Anthony “Tony” Gunn, Emma “Em” Strieter and Lillia “Lily” Hendrickson made up the team, with Antonio Terrell acting as alternate. Randy V. Bradley, associate professor in supply chain management and Haslam Family Faculty Research Fellow, served as the team’s advisor.

The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business hosted the competition from February 23-25. Haslam won out over a large, competitive field of teams. The University of Alabama took second place and Brigham Young University came in third.

Using AI to Improve Bank Performance

The KeyBank Foundation Minority MBA Student Case Competition presents first-year graduate student teams with a fresh, contemporary topic that addresses complex business issues with diverse ramifications. Working on the business case fosters participants’ critical professional skills, like analyzing complex business issues and quickly devising potential solutions. Team members also sharpen their communication and team-building skills while learning from the expertise of the business executives who serve as judges and moderators.

For the 20th competition, the teams were tasked with developing a comprehensive strategy incorporating generative AI tools and techniques to improve customer retention and grow deposits at a regional bank. To inform their presentations, teams considered how to use AI to address customer demand for personalization and customization while factoring in constraints like ensuring customer data privacy and security.

Winning by Pursuing Excellence

The competition judges greeted the Haslam team’s ideas with excitement and enthusiasm, according to Bradley, calling their presentation a masterclass in communicating a clear, coherent and compelling strategy on a relatively complex issue. Judges also praised the team members’ poise, preparation and professional delivery. Bradley quoted one KeyBank leader as saying, “They were so effective and engaging that I would buy anything they’re selling.”

Bradley felt the most important aspects of the team’s win were teamwork and preparation.

“I am most appreciative of how this team supports each other and how they take to coaching and guidance,” he said. “Each person is driven to get better with each iteration. They now understand that winning is a byproduct of the pursuit of excellence.”

Mary Goss, Haslam’s executive director for graduate business programs, called the team’s accomplishment a source of pride for the program.

“We are thrilled that this team of students represented the college in such an outstanding fashion in the KeyBank case competition,” she said. “Their performance speaks to how seriously they take their studies and how much they are gaining from their classes and related activities.”


Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, rmcnutt4@utk.edu