Sweet competition jump-starts critical skills-building for Jenkins MBA students

Submitted by Anna Rzewnicki on Wednesday Aug 13, 2014.

Members of the NC State Jenkins MBA class of 2016 had a sweet competition in the midst of their new student orientation.

Working in teams, the new Jenkins MBA candidates analyzed what had transpired from the founding of the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker company in 1996 to its rapid rise to success as a U.S. gourmet chocolate maker in the tradition of the European artisan chocolate makers.The analysis challenged the first-year MBA teams to make recommendations for the company’s growth strategy. 

The winning team members - Jasleen Kaur, Sabih Farooq, Phil Sloate and John Elliott – were commended for both their analysis and their presentation skills by the judging panel. The judges were Tao Wang and Darrell Hudson with Bayer CropScience; Scott Bolin, Jenkins MBA alumnus and founder of Tethis; and Bev Porter, director of the Jenkins Career Management Center at Poole College. The competition was sponsored by Bayer CropScience.

The exercise was designed to get the students started on the case study approach and to learn about the opportunities, challenges and solutions that companies encounter in the course of their business growth and development. It also provided experience with team building and presentation skills.

David Henard, Poole College’s Board of Advisors Professor of Business Management and member of the college’s marketing faculty, prepped the students Monday morning on several case study analysis methods, after which the teams had seven hours to complete their case analysis – with some assistance from professional team coaches – and develop their presentations.

“Case study analysis is used by top business schools because it is a proven method for transmitting business insights across a wide range of situations that managers face,” Henard said, adding that it also "enhances critical thinking skills.”  Critical thinking, along with presentation and delivery – from gestures to slides – were among the points on which the teams were judged. Critical thinking included how well each team identified key issues, evaluated alternatives and developed conclusions and recommendations.

The case competition is a key part of the Jenkins MBA program’s intensive orientation for new students.

"We use new student orientation to jumpstart our students' leadership development, management skill building and career search process," said Pam Bostic, assistant dean for graduate professional programs at Poole College's Jenkins Graduate School. "This intensive two-week program sets the tone for the next two years of our students' academic and experiential education," she said.

The orientation program included seminars on topics like maximizing team performance, global awareness, leading teams, building relationships and launching ventures. Students also participated in a day of service, sponsored by corporate partner Lowe's, during which they volunteered for organizations like ArtSpace and Interfaith Food Shuttle. Orientation wraps up with a "virtual makeover" event designed to optimize the new students' digital brand. This final event is cohosted with the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association (TIMA).


PHOTO ONE: Winning team members Sabih Farooq, Phil Sloate, John Elliott and Jasleen Kaur

PHOTO TWO: Winning team members flanked by the case competition judges Bev Porter, director of the Jenkins Career Management Center at Poole College and Tao Wang, head of supply management and demand planning for Region North America, Bayer CropScience (left), and Scott Bolin, Jenkins MBA alumnus and co-founder of Tethis, a company with roots in the Jenkins MBA program's entrepreneurship and technology commercialization concentration, and Darrell Hudson, head of international logistics and trade compliance, Bayer CropScience (right).


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