April 1, 2023

Vanderbilt Crowned 2023 SEC MBA Case Competition Winner

Photo courtesy of Brian Powers
Photo courtesy of Brian Powers

By: SEC Staff
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

ATHENS, Ga. — Vanderbilt University won first place at the 10th annual Southeastern Conference MBA Case Competition, hosted by the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. It marked the first time a team from the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management captured the SEC competition title.

The SEC MBA Case Competition, established in 2013, provides opportunities for SEC business schools to showcase their students’ skills at solving simulated, real-world problems faced by a large corporation. WestRock, a leading provider of sustainable paper and packaging solutions, served as this year’s case company.

“It’s really exciting and certainly gratifying,” said Caleb Petersen, one of Vanderbilt’s four team members and winner of the Division C Best Q&A. “We spent a lot of time in a conference room, but it was with some great classmates thinking about a really fun problem. Having the payoff of winning and placing is really exciting and certainly a nice culmination to an amazing weekend in Athens.”

The teams had approximately 24 hours to prepare their recommended solutions, which they presented on Saturday to a panel of company executives in divisional and final rounds of competition. WestRock executives were tasked with considering each presentation, identifying four teams to advance to the finals and ultimately ranking the final four teams on Saturday afternoon. The students’ identities and university affiliations were kept anonymous to the judges to ensure the contest’s impartiality.

Although team advisors were not able to communicate with their students after the case was presented on Friday morning, they observed the presentations and offered support after the competition concluded.

“I’m so excited and happy for them because we knew that we had a really strong team coming in,” said Courtney Fain, Vanderbilt MBA advisor and associate director and MBA coach in the Career Management Center at the university. “They prepared above and beyond from what I have seen before. I think seeing a first-time Vanderbilt Owen winner is amazing to witness. They are tired and giddy after the past few days, so seeing how excited they are is extra icing on the cake.”

The winning team received a $10,000 prize; second place received $6,000; third place received $3,000; fourth place received $1,000; and individual division winners for best presenter and best Q&A were awarded $250 each.

A full list of winners from the 2023 SEC MBA Case Competition is below.

First Place Team: Vanderbilt University (Chris Scheinert, Caleb Petersen, Ben Jickling, Haley Menz and Courtney Fain, advisor)

Second Place Team: University of Kentucky (Grace Salmon, Brooklyn Stephens, Owen Stephens, Cornelius Smal and Karl Gustafson, advisor)

Third Place Team: University of Alabama (Grace Brandon, Aija Abele, Andrew Ravine, Nicholas Perera, Quoc Hoang, advisor, and Meaghan James, advisor)

Fourth Place Team: University of Tennessee (Dariana Martre, Matthew Hatton, Nathan Wilson, Matt Bates, Laura Williams, advisor, and Randy Bradley, advisor)

Best Presenter Winners:

Division A – Grace Crain, University of Arkansas

Division B – Brooklyn Stevens, University of Kentucky

Division C – Ben Jickling, Vanderbilt University

Division D – Dariana Martre, University of Tennessee

Best Q&A Winners:

Division A – Lauren Earle, University of Georgia

Division B – Cornelius Smal, University of Kentucky

Division C – Caleb Petersen, Vanderbilt University

Division D – Brody Lee, University of Florida

Since 2011, the SEC has supported and promoted collaborative programs and activities for its 14 member universities, such as the SEC Student Pitch Competition, the SEC Emerging Scholars Program, among others.