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Ole Miss Students Excel in MBA Case Competition

UM case competition team / Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Communications
UM case competition team / Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Communications

Team member wins Best Student Presenter Award in inaugural SEC event

A student team from the University of Mississippi’s MBA program recently participated in the inaugural Southeastern Conference MBA Case Competition in Missouri, bringing home the event’s Best Presenter Award.

All 14 SEC member universities participated in a real-time business case competition created by AT&T. MBA students created a proposal for the company to identify the best solution for the panel of judges.

The Ole Miss MBA team consisted of Jennifer Urban of Littleton, Colo., Thorne Williams of Birmingham, Ala., Dillon King of Madison and Bret Babcock of Liberty Center, Ohio, winner of the Best Presenter Award for Division 212. All four students completed their MBAs in May.

The Best Presenter Award was given to three students based on division. Other awards were the Best Q&A Award, the Team Sportsman Award and the overall team winner.

“I think the one thing that our team did the best job out of any of the teams was bringing an original solution to AT&T’s problems,” Babcock said. “The MBA program at Ole Miss does a great job of teaching business principles, and we were able to leverage that in our solution.

“Business is about ideas, and I think our team did a great job of communicating that.”

Douglas Vorhies, associate professor of marketing and director of the university’s MBA program, praised Babcock’s performance at the competition.

“He was clear, concise and has a very easy style that makes following him (easy) as he leads you to the answer,” Vorhies said. “AT&T provided the teams with a real problem, one that was not easy to solve. The Ole Miss team had a really innovative solution. I think the real value was in participating in the competition and comparing the Ole Miss solution to that of the other teams. I think our MBA team did great”

Williams, who completed his MBA in the spring, said the competition provided a great challenge.

“It was also great getting to learn from and exchange experiences with other MBA students from different universities,” he said. “It was an awesome experience competing with the top talent in the SEC. We received personalized feedback from our judges after the competition, which revealed to each member of the team a specific area they could work on.”

The UM team members were selected by Vorhies after watching how well they worked together and after seeing the quality of their work, said Urban, the only female on the team.

“The case that we were given was not easy by any means,” she said. “We probably spent at least the first eight hours simply researching all the different areas of the problem, which were nothing close to common business knowledge.

“It was great that the case was complex because it adequately portrayed how a case would be in the actual business world. I felt like the competition was wonderful preparation for my future career. I truly believe that our team had the most innovative idea.”

Williams lives in Dallas, where he is an associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Babcock and King enrolled this fall in the UM School of Law, where Urban is a second-year transfer student.

— Misty Cowherd, Ole Miss News Desk

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