MBA students beat the odds at Las Vegas contest

May 25, 2012

By Tim Belter ’13

Four Bradley students put up a strong showing at the Society for Advancement of Management’s annual competition last month in Las Vegas. The team of MBA students took second place out of 26 teams after giving a presentation followed by a question-and-answer session to a three-judge panel.

“This year, the judges were extremely challenging in their questions,” said Dr. Larry Weinzimmer, a strategic management professor and the team’s faculty adviser. “The students did an excellent job of responding.”

The students—Veronika Koubova, Jana Kotkova, Kyle Malinowski and Candace Esken—worked since January on a case about electric car dealership Tesla Motors. The case included real-world market and industry data on the company, but the team went above and beyond in their research by conducting a survey with over 700 respondents.

“It was an amazing learning experience for me,” said Koubova. “I have learned how to analyze a company from inside and outside, how to prepare an effective presentation and how to promote a survey and analyze the data.”

Added fellow student Kotkova, “I enjoyed the whole process. It was exciting to see the progress of our work.”

Dr. Weinzimmer said the team’s hard work and out-of-the-box thinking set them apart in the competition.

“At a lot of the universities, the student teams approach this as a case analysis. Our students approach this as though they are professional consultants, so they collect original data,” he said. “I think that’s something that really differentiates us from the other universities.”

As prepared as they were when their turn came up, the team did have to compete with a bit of bad luck in the form of technical difficulties. The PowerPoint presentation they created would not display, so they printed copies of the slides and presented from the handouts.

“They persevered and did an outstanding job,” said Dr. Weinzimmer. “To still take second place is a testament to the quality of the work they did.”

Bradley students have a strong history competing the SAM contest. Bradley has sent a team for five years, and the students have always taken first or second place. Dr. Weinzimmer has been the faculty adviser each year, but he emphasizes that Bradley’s success comes down to the students.

“Every year, they’ve really represented Bradley well,” he said. “I give them some direction to start, and then they take it from there.”