IU tied for first with University of California at Berkeley last weekend at the Kelley School of Business’s eighth annual National Diversity Case Competition. The winning teams each received a $6,250 cash prize.
Eight years ago, the competition was started by students on the Undergraduate Business Diversity Council with help from professor Martin McCrory, Kelley Dean Idalene Kesner said.
Since then, it has grown to be the largest of its kind in the country, Undergraduate Kelley Chairperson Josh Perry said.
“The goal of the competition is to bring together underrepresented minority business students from across the nation to showcase their talent and create opportunities for them to network with corporate recruiters,” said Kesner.
This year, 42 teams competed, while 35 teams participated last year. The competition consisted of 168 students, IU spokesperson George Vlahakis said.
“It’s gotten so popular that more schools are applying than we have space for,” Perry said. “We had to turn away schools because there is such a heavy demand for it.”
Perry said it is exciting to see students get involved.
“My favorite part of the event is seeing students take a chance,” Perry said. “Students have so many other commitments, so seeing them take the time to do something that isn’t required is exciting.”
Sophomore Liwam Gebreslassie, member of IU’s winning team, said in an email that the scale of the competition made it very nerve-wracking.
“Every time I think back into my experience, I vividly remember continuously stuttering and pausing when practicing for the final presentation,” Gebreslassie said. “I went into the final presentation being the most nervous I have ever been in my life.”
However, she said the experience was worth it.
“This case has given me a better perspective on business and operations,” Gebreslassie said. “My team and I were able to exemplify what we spent every day of the past two months working on through what the Kelley School has taught us. I think we represented our school pretty well.”
The competition was divided into teams of four, but IU’s team only had three after someone dropped out. Each team needed two members from a minority group to qualify for the diversity competition. This year, competitors were 38 percent African-American, 24 percent Hispanic, 13 percent Asian and 14 percent multiracial.
The competition is meant to showcase the talent and diversity among business students around America, Vlahakis said.
Diana Rath, captain of IU’s winning team, said in an email that the event is much more than a competition.
“The networking opportunities from the competition can have a huge impact on my career down the road,” Rath said. “In just a matter of days, I made many valuable connections from 18 amazing companies.”
Kesner said the case and the judges for the final round were supplied by Target, and they listened to a presentation and officiated a question and answer segment.
Aside from the competition, students have the opportunity to attend networking events, workshops and panels. Perry said students get to network and make connections and also discuss how to handle diversity and inclusion issues.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article used an incorrect pronoun for Liwam Gebreslassie. The IDS regrets this error.