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By Beth Stewart

An Eller MBA team comprised of first-year students Marci Hill, Miles Krieger, Vinay Nenwani, and Adam Tank brought home first prize in the General Electric Experienced Commercial Leadership Program (GE ECLP) Case Competition. “Team Imagination” tackled a real-world problem: how to pitch software and analytical capabilities to current customers in GE’s power generation division. The Eller MBA team topped competitors from Thunderbird School of Global Management, University of Texas – Austin, Southern Methodist University, and host school University of Southern California. Each team had previously competed in a “Round Zero” against other hopefuls from their own MBA programs.

According to team member Tank, the feedback received from Eller Round Zero faculty judges Mauricio Varela and Ken Smith helped propel the team to the big win. The team also received valuable pointers from staff judge Kristy Ruiz, as well as second-year MBA student judges Therese Sebastian and Vinod Kumar Harikrishnan.

“Ken and Mauricio were especially helpful in directing our efforts to focus on value creation and capturing value for the customer,” Tank said.

Team member Marci Hill concurred: “The judges at USC mentioned our focus on the customer as something that really set us apart.”

Team Imagination split a cash prize of $3,000 and each team member is guaranteed an interview for a GE ECLP Summer Associate position. This coveted internship can be a precursor to the 2-year Experienced Commercial Leadership Program, one of the most prestigious programs of its kind. Tank and Hill both credited the team’s “all hands on deck” approach with their success.

“None of us knew much about power generation, so it was important to teach each other as we learned,” said Tank.

Hill added, “Since we prepared together, we were all on the same page when it came to the presentation. We could have easily delivered each other’s parts, and it made us all much more comfortable answering questions.”

It was a condensed preparation period. Following Round Zero at Eller, the team had two weeks to prepare the next level’s case for the trip to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the first of those two weeks was filled with first-year student exams, leaving the team precious little time to dissect the case, formulate their recommendations, and practice their presentation. Luckily, the students were able to use the skills they’d learned in the rigorous Eller MBA Business Communication course taught by Mikel Chertudi.

The team was also able to draw on its members’ diverse backgrounds. Nenwani is an IT expert who joined Eller from Infosys, while Hill is a 10-year veteran of nonprofits. Krieger is a dual JD/MBA student, and Tank contributed his experience as a Fortune 500 manufacturing supervisor. The team members valued the opportunity to network with GE executives and competing MBA students, and are proud to be the first Eller MBA team to have captured top prize in the GE ECLP Case Competition.

Top image of Team Imagination (Vinay Nenwani, Adam Tank, Miles Krieger, and Marci Hill). Photo by Kara de Zubeldia.