April 19, 2021
University of Mississippi Wins First SEC MBA Case Competition Title
By: SEC Staff
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)
Birmingham, Ala. (April 19, 2021) – The University of Mississippi won first place in the 8th SEC MBA Case Competition, conducted virtually for the first time in SEC history and facilitated by the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business at Auburn University. The winning team was comprised of Lauren Cherep, Drew Johnson, Andrew Raspo and Haley Young. Dr. Walter Davis advises the Ole Miss team, which captured its first ever SEC competition championship.
“I almost didn’t believe my eyes when I saw our names on the 1st place slide because the moment was so surreal,” Young said. “Gaining recognition for an event like this is special and knowing all of our hard work paid off is a feeling like no other.”
In keeping with the competition framework, the event spanned three days, April 15-17, and it began with the four-person SEC teams being randomly drawn into four divisions on Thursday evening. On Friday morning a representative from Aflac, the case company, presented a real-world challenge to the students, who then had approximately 24 hours to outline an approach to the challenge while also organizing a related presentation.
“The competition was like procrastinating on level 1,000,” Cherep said. “You had to work under pressure with little to no breaks. Although it was stressful, I enjoyed the fact that I was able to work under the pressure. Honestly, I did not realize my own ability to get such a well-done presentation finished in less than 24 hours.”
Senior executives from Aflac made up the judging panels, including President and Chief Operating Officer, Frederick J. Crawford. And Michael DeVore, Vice President for Corporate Development at Aflac and a leading coordinator with Auburn, notes his colleagues were truly impressed by all the SEC teams. The judges considered each presentation and the top four teams advanced to the finals on Saturday afternoon.
“My favorite part of the competition was the Q&A following our presentations,” Raspo said. “It was really cool to answer questions and talk to the high-level executives from Aflac.”
Although team advisors were not able to communicate with their students after the case was presented, they did observe the presentations, and were able to offer support and suggestions for improvement after the competition concluded.
“I was elated to hear our team won, and this is a great honor for the Ole Miss MBA program,” Davis said. The team devoted a lot of time and energy to preparing for the competition, and I was excited to work with them. This is a great experience for our students, as it gives them an opportunity to develop and exercise the creative and analytical skills that will be so important to their professional careers.”
The most recent SEC MBA Case Competition winner, the University of Alabama, finished second this year; followed by the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee.
Individual competition awards were given in each division. Savanah Hiers, University of Alabama (Division A); Mwamba Bowa, University of Tennessee (Division B); Caleb Gude, Auburn University (Division C); and Kristyn Cadwell, University of Florida (Division D) were named best presenters for 2021.
Winners of the best question and answer session were Madison Grant, Mississippi State University (Division A); Marjory Day, University of Tennessee (Division B); Heather Pitts, University of Kentucky (Division C); and Russell Gardiner, University of Florida (Division D).
The SEC MBA Case Competition began in 2013 and provides a high-level experiential learning opportunity for SEC business schools to showcase their students’ skills at solving simulated or real-world problems. The 2022 competition is scheduled to be held at the University of Kentucky.
A full list of winners from the 2021 SEC MBA Case Competition is below.
Final Team SEC MBA Case Competition Results
First Place Team: University of Mississippi (Lauren Cherep, Drew Johnson, Andrew Raspo, Haley Young and Dr. Walter Davis, advisor)
Second Place Team: University of Alabama (Diana Boone, Savanah Hiers, Savannah Middleton, Oliver Robinson and Quoc Hoang, advisor)
Third Place Team: University of Kentucky (Luke Fish, Emilee Olsen, Heather Pitts, Kelly Swanson and Karl Gustafson, advisor)
Fourth Place Team: University of Tennessee (Mwamba Bowa, Marjory Day, Kaitlin Floyd, Patrick Long and Dr. Randy Bradley, advisor)
Best Presenter Winners:
Division A – Savanah Hiers, University of Alabama
Division B – Mwamba Bowa, University of Tennessee
Division C – Caleb Gude, Auburn University
Division D – Kristyn Cadwell, University of Florida
Best Q&A Winners:
Division A – Madison Grant, Mississippi State University
Division B – Marjory Day, University of Tennessee
Division C – Heather Pitts, University of Kentucky
Division D – Russell Gardiner, University of Florida