Four Knox College students applied their skills and education to a realistic business environment at the Simon Business School's 2016 Early Leaders Case Competition, where two of the students participated on the top two teams.
The annual event at the University of Rochester in New York provided 50 undergraduate students from 14 institutions with an immersive experience and the opportunity to make decisions similar to those faced by business leaders all over the world. Assigned randomly to teams of five, students analyzed the same business case, determined an action plan, and prepared a formal presentation for judges who selected the first-, second-, and third-place finishers.
The Knox students were accompanied by faculty member John Spittell, Wagner Distinguished Chair in Business; Professor and Chair of Business and Management; and Executive-in-Residence.
"The case competition was high stress, high pressure, and hugely challenging," said Emily Trevor '17, who was on the first-place team that shared a $5,000 prize. "It was a tremendous growth opportunity."
"I gained an insight into the skills I possess and the skills I need to build," added Trevor, who is majoring in theatre and minoring in business and management. "I was strong in analyzing the business and coming up with ideas."
She and other Knox students said their liberal arts education equipped them well for the competition.
"Simply put, Knox students can do it all," said Monika Kopec '17. "Many of the students from other schools have majors and minors in very similar fields (business, economics, etc.) or have very narrow focuses within their major, whereas Knox students tend to have diverse majors and minors and the business program here teaches much more varied content."
"Knox students are able to bring creative, outside-the-box ideas and they are the jack-of-all-trades, in a sense," added Kopec, a psychology major with minors in religious studies and business and management.
Jinglin Feng '17, who was on the second-place team that shared a $3,000 prize, said Knox's diverse student body helped her interact effectively with other team members at the Simon competition.
"Having the experience to communicate with students from different backgrounds has allowed me to think more creatively and internationally, which is crucial when we discuss business in a global conversation," said Feng, who is majoring in international studies and minoring in Spanish and business and management.
Alex Contreras '18 pointed out that classes with Spittell have provided him with experience in analyzing business cases. But Contreras added that until he went to the Simon competition, he had never worked on a business case with a group of students he'd just met.
He said he'd encourage other Knox students to participate in the Early Leaders Case Competition.
"It allowed me to apply what I have learned during my time at Knox and see how it can be used in the real world," said Contreras, an economics major with a minor in business and management.
Knox College has a long-standing educational partnership with the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester that makes it possible for select Knox students to secure admission and a merit scholarship to Simon's M.B.A. program. Knox alumna Laura Lueninghoener '16 currently is pursuing a master's in marketing analytics at the school.