Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the Muma College of Business sponsor case competitions?
Case competitions provide an opportunity for about-to-graduate undergraduates and top MBA students to challenge their skills and abilities as they analyze an ongoing business, consider current strategies and alternative courses of action, make strategic recommendations, and implement concrete steps to deal effectively with the problems/opportunities they have identified or have been asked to focus on by the case company's executives.
The college sponsors four competitions each year: undergraduate competitions in fall and spring semesters; an MBA competition in fall semester; and the Florida Intercollegiate Case Competition in spring semester. The Florida Intercollegiate Case Competition has included teams from USF, Florida State, the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, and Rollins College.
What is the benefit to the company?
From the company's perspective, competitions represent an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on strategic and operating issues from some very talented undergraduate and MBA students. Every company that has participated in case competition has left with at least two or three actionable ideas. We offer prospective case companies two possible participation options:
- General/generic case
USF faculty develop an overview of the company relying on published information. In addition to the overview, students/judges receive a packet of articles culled from newspapers and trade and academic journals that address the company, competitors, and the industry as well as published annual and interim financial reports. The student teams' challenge in this scenario is to both identify the most important issue(s) facing the organization and propose appropriate strategies/tactics. The company can choose to become involved, provide additional materials, and/or share non-public information.
- Focused case
The second option is a focused case that provides company executives the opportunity to identify a specific strategic or operating issue they would like students to address. This option involves more work for the case company, but leads to more customized feedback and recommendations. With a focused case, one or more company executive(s) presents the specifics of the case to the students on the Friday morning of the competition. This allows subject companies to have the student teams focus on any particular strategic or operating issue they desire. While we encourage case company representatives to attend the Friday morning case 'unveilings' for generic cases, the custom case option really requires company executives to frame the issues the Friday morning of the competition weekend.
Companies also have the chance to observe, and potentially recruit, some of the best business students in Florida.
How does the competition work?
In the competitions, students work on what is essentially a 'live case': the situation facing a company (ordinarily, publically held) dealing with real-time strategic and/or operating challenges and opportunities. For the in-house competitions, students apply for one of 20-30 'slots' in the competition. A team of faculty selects the top students from the applicant pool, who then themselves form four-six teams of five students each.
For all of the competitions (with minor variations), students receive the case materials on a Friday morning, usually around 9:30 AM at the room where the competitions are held, BSN 230, and have until the next morning (usually a little less than 24 hours) to prepare their analyses, recommendations and presentations. They then present their analyses and recommendations to a panel of judges comprised of subject company executives, COB faculty (in-house competitions only) and other executives from the Tampa Bay area. For this, the student teams plan on making a 30 minute (maximum) PowerPoint presentation that will be followed by a 15 min Q&A session with the judges. These presentations are begun on the hour at 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM – depending on the number of teams. Upon completion of the final presentation, there is a lunch banquet at the Multipurpose Room (BSN 224) at the college where the students can meet and network with the judges for the competition.
After the luncheon portion of the banquet, each of the student participants has the opportunity to speak briefly about themselves before the group. After this, each of the judges speaks about him or herself and their impressions of the competition. The head judge from the case company will then announce the winning team. After this, each team has the opportunity to sit down with the judging panel to receive feedback. These sessions usually take from 15-20 minutes each. The feedback sessions end the competition.