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By Eller College

A team of four second-year Eller MBA students traveled to Boston last month to participate in an invitation-only case competition sponsored by Ericsson and hosted by Boston University. The team went up against MBAs from sixteen top programs, including Wharton, UT Austin, and London Business School, to solve a market challenge focused on technology in business strategy and operations — in just 24 hours.

“The event was a rewarding way to incorporate many of the business concepts that I’ve gained during my study at the University of Arizona,” says team member Justin Hart. “But when you read ’24-hour case competition,’ understand that a complete, cohesive, and strategic presentation must be developed in less than 24 hours! We didn’t receive much case information prior to the competition and had to move swiftly to make strategic decisions.”

Hart, along with colleagues Forrest Branch, Jeff Child, and Ian Rushton, was chosen to represent the Eller College from an internal case competition at the beginning of the semester. They had three months to prepare for the competition, but no way to predict exactly what the case would demand of them. The teams gathered in Boston, enjoyed a pre-competition reception, then got down to business.

“The case assignment was to address what Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg had called a ‘Sea of Connectivity,’ in which 50 billion mobile devices are expected by 2015, driven as much by machine-to-machine communications as by people-to-place connections,” says Child. “The required deliverables included a vision of Ericsson’s role in a data-driven digital environment, a new business model for the company to increase and capture value, and a forecast of the five-year financial impact of the model proposed.”

It was an inevitable all-nighter. “The task of digesting these objectives, carving out strategies, tactics, and outcomes, and ultimately constructing an actionable and defensible business model in a 24-hour period was doable only by working with some of the top students in the Eller MBA program,” Child says. “We each brought experiences, skills sets, capabilities, and perspectives that played a valuable role in delivering a performance that was lauded by our judges.”

Ultimately, London Business School took top honors. But the Eller MBAs walked away from the competition feeling good about their performance.

“I am smarter, sharper, wiser, and more capable because I participated in this competition,” says Hart. “This serves as a great transition point for me, as I focus on effectively applying in the board room what I have learned and practiced in the classroom.”