By Liz Warren-Pederson
In April, a team of Eller undergraduate students traveled to Seattle for the 2013 Global Business Challenge, hosted by the Foster School of Business’s Global Business Center at the University of Washington. The week-long program culminated in a real-world case study that the teams were given 48 hours to solve through their analysis.
The Eller team – Colton Cray, Dylia Hernandez, Wesley Warshawer, and Michelle Vock – was one of just two domestic schools represented, and finished in the final four.
“We were given a case about Frog’s Leap Winery in northern California,” said Warshawer (Eller MIS, Operations Management, and Entrepreneurship ‘13). “The company wanted our consulting team to help them address two challenges: first, they wanted their winery to become more environmentally friendly, which was actually very difficult because the company already had the highest green rating for any winery; and second, they wanted to expand to new, overseas markets.”
Cray (Eller MIS, Operations Management, Finance, and Entrepreneurship ‘14) said the team took a unique approach to the case. “We realized early on that what we lacked in number-crunching and accounting prowess, we made up for with our precocious attitudes and creativity, which actually goes a long way in these kinds of competitions,” he said. “A 15-minute presentation isn’t really enough time to explain a full pro-forma financial analysis, and 48 hours is hardly enough time to prepare one. We quickly realized that as Americans in a global competition setting, our strength lay in our ability to come up with innovative, out-of-the-box solutions, and people really responded to that.”
“We started by identifying the problems that the company was facing, we ranked the critical issues, and after that we conducted intensive research and analysis about the company,” said Hernandez (Eller Economics ‘13). “We proposed several possible solutions and with the results from our research we narrowed it down to one holistic solution.”
“All of the teams were talented, but I thought our team did an especially good job at concisely explaining to the judges what our researched showed and what we were suggesting,” Warshawer said. “It was easy to get bogged down in so many details of the case; we did a great job balancing the big picture with smaller details.”
“People may have underestimated us because we represent a public American school, but were impressed when they saw how well-voiced our ideas were,” Cray said. “Being the underdog helped because neither the competition nor the judges anticipated just how much Eller had prepared us for the high-pressure environment the case provided. We came in guns blazing and earned our right to be heard, and we have Eller to thank for that.”
“This was one of the most valuable experiences that I have had at Eller,” Hernandez said. “We had the opportunity to compete and interact with students from 11 universities from other countries. We also had the opportunity to visit several companies in Seattle and meet with high-level executives.”
“I am very interested in international business and the Business Challenge was an excellent way to meet other business students from around the world,” Warshawer said. “As a student in the Global Business Program at Eller, I have frequently studied international business in the classroom, but this was a wonderful way to expand this learning.”
“It was great to work with such a brilliant group of Eller students,” Hernandez added. “I would also like to say thank you to Vannessa Kramer and Pam Perry for making this experience possible and for the great support that they gave us.”
Top photo, the Eller College team of Colson Cray, Dylia Hernandez, Michelle Vock, and Wesley Warshawer, plus advisor Vannessa Kramer (center), courtesy Vannessa Kramer.