Jacqueline Molik Ghosen
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Instead of using a stale Harvard Business case, student finalists in the UB School of Management’s 14th annual MBA case competition applied their problem-solving skills to a real-world situation closer to home: how to boost the economy of Wilson, N.Y., after the recent closing of the Pfeiffer Salad Dressing plant.
In first place, winning cash awards of $300 each and moving on to the George Washington University International MBA Case Competition on March 19 and 20, were second-year MBAs Alex Banfai of Niagara Falls, Ont.; Chris Bodkin of Snyder; Alina Cofas of Bucharest, Romania; and Dave Gordon of Amherst.
Winners were chosen from among four teams of finalists who presented their strategic assessment of the situation on Feb. 5 at Wilson High School.
Recommendations were diverse, from making Wilson a Wi-Fi village to processing organic applesauce in the now-vacant manufacturing plant to leveraging tourism opportunities.
Village Mayor Patrick Kelahan, a UB MBA alumnus, worked with the UB School of Management to develop the case. He also served as a judge of competition, along with Arjang Assad, dean, UB School of Management; Joseph Bell, vice president of acquisition integration, Moog; and Karen Howard, vice president of finance and CFO, Columbus McKinnon; and Kathleen Neville of Neville Consultants Inc.
"My goal in reaching out to the UB School of Management was to leverage the perspective the MBA students gain through their studies by applying their knowledge and creativity to a challenge faced by hundreds of communities in New York: what do we do now that our primary employer has closed or reduced staff?” said Mayor Kelahan after the presentations. “Wilson recognizes that it must embrace diverse ideas and consider other directions if the community is to remain viable. As expected, the depth and breadth of ideas presented in the competition were wonderful--and actionable,” he added.
Judges evaluated participants on the quality of their analyses, the creativity and clarity of their recommendations, the quality and detail of their implementation plans, the quality and style of their oral presentations, and how well the students defended their recommendations in their question and answer responses.
“This type of real-world learning is a key component of the UB MBA experience,” said David Frasier, assistant dean and director of the MBA, MS and PhD programs in the School of Management. “And using a real case in which the outcome could have a positive economic impact on a Western New York community makes it ideally suited to UB’s mission."
Columbus McKinnon Corporation, Ernst & Young, Moog, Sevenson Environmental Services, Time Warner Cable, The Clark Companies, HSBC Bank, The Wilson (NY) Community Enhancement Charity are sponsoring the competition.
The Wall Street Journal has ranked the UB School of Management No. 9 in the nation among schools with strong regional recruiting bases. In addition, BusinessWeek has ranked the school as one of the country's top 5 business schools for the fastest return on MBA investment, and Forbes has cited it as one of the best business schools in the U.S. for the return on investment it provides MBA graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.