Knox College Team at the Simon Graduate School of Business

Knox Students Win Honors in Business Competition

Contest sponsored by the Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester

December 21, 2010

Students from Knox College placed among the top finishers at this year's Early Leaders Case Competition sponsored by the Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester. The annual competition challenges selected college undergraduates to solve business problems with the "case study" method used in many graduate-level business programs. The three-person team that included Xiaoyun Zhu, a senior from the People's Republic of China, finished in first place, while Krista Anne Nordgren, a junior from Durham, North Carolina, was on the third place team.

The competition, held in November at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, includes cash awards for the top three teams -- $5,000.00 divided among Zhu's first place team and $2,000 for Nordgren's third place team.

Photo above, from left, Krista Anne Nordgren, Xiaoyun Zhu, Damilola Olotu, Christina Warner, Jordan Ball, Runtian Bai, Tomilola Olotu; at top, John Spittell, professor of business and management.

Students from Knox and 16 other liberal arts colleges were invited to participate by the Simon Graduate School of Business. The Simon School assembles teams with students from different colleges to ensure diversity within each team and parity among the teams, in terms of academic background and business-related experience.

"The competition is a great opportunity for students to put their skills to the test and demonstrate their potential in front to business leaders, faculty and graduate students," said John Spittell, Professor of Business and Management and Executive in Residence at Knox, who accompanied the students to the competition.

"Because this is an invitational -- you have to be invited to the competition by the University of Rochester -- it is also a great opportunity for those Knox students who are interested in getting a closer look at the highly respected M.B.A. program at the Simon Graduate School of Business," Spittell said.

In all, seven Knox students participated in the competition:

Name; Class; Major(s); Minor(s)
Runtian Bai; junior; economics; business and management, industrial engineering
Jordan Ball; senior; economics; environmental studies, business and management
Krista Anne Nordgren; junior; creative writing
Damilola Olotu; senior; economics;business and management
Tomilola Olotu; senior; economics; business and management, gender and women's studies
Christina Warner; junior; psychology; business and management
Xiaoyun Zhu; senior; financial mathematics; business and management

At the competition, teams are assigned business problems, and then given approximately 24 hours to develop recommendations and create a presentation. Judges include business faculty, executives and graduate students. Criteria include the quality of the teams' recommendations and presentations, and their responses to direct questions from the judges. The Knox students' participation in the competition was supported in part by a grant from The James S. Kemper Foundation, Chicago, Illinois.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 45 states and 48 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.