WMU MBA students advance in new strategic case competition

Contact: Stacey Markin
Photo of MBA students giving a presentation.

Students present at the MBA Strategic Management Case Competition.

KALAMAZOO—A panel of top executives from the likes of Meijer, Stryker Corp., Dow Chemical Co. and Ernst & Young evaluated 39 students competing in the first Western Michigan University MBA Strategic Management Case Competition Saturday, March 29, narrowing 11 teams to an elite "final four" of strategists.

The teams presented their strategies for sustainable business initiatives for The Dow Chemical Company, with the first-place team claiming the top prize of $1,000. That team was comprised of Adam Custis of Kalamazoo, Mich., Don Bolton of Lawton, Mich., and James Bronson of Kalamazoo. The team suggested seven measurable goals to maximize the potential of Dow's sustainability efforts going forward.

The team placing second and sharing a prize of $500 was composed of Rachel Leone, Jim Nicolow and Sachi Vyas, all of Kalamazoo. The team delivered a presentation on three key themes—transparency, efficiency and trust.

"We have incredibly motivated and thoughtful students in our MBA program who can readily see the complexity of business problems and suggest mature and nuanced solutions, which is one of the reasons we created this competition," says Dr. David Flanagan, professor of management and director of the competition. "Yet the final presentations exceeded my expectations. This was also a great chance for all of us to learn more about The Dow Chemical Company since it is such an important Michigan-based business that is concerned with sustainability issues."

The judges

Judging the competition finals were Paul Boyer, vice chairman emeritus, Meijer; David Hoogendoorn, market segment leader for Michigan and northwest Ohio and office managing partner for Grand Rapids, Ernst & Young LLP; Jim Koessel, senior vice president and manager, Premier Banking Group, Chemical Bank; Amy Papranec, vice president, Global Program Solutions, Stryker Corp.; and Han Zhang, sustainability leader, Sustainability Program Management Office, The Dow Chemical Co.