Exploring Solutions to Attain and Retain Tech Talent 

By Brittany Do

Fall quarter, the last quarter of the year but the first of the school year, ended with a flurry of snow and students. With 142 students, 28 judges, and 38 volunteers, Paccar Hall was incredibly busy on Friday, December 2nd, when the students wrapped up their Strategic Management capstone class with a case competition. The students in groups of four and five work together over the course of the quarter; they read a case, research the company, brainstorm potential solutions and determine the best one, and present it to the judges. 

“The case competition helped me learn how to consider business problems more holistically, considering not just how to solve the problem at hand, but how to address financial aspects as well as the needs of various stakeholders. It also was a great exercise in teamwork, as we all had a lot to do in a short time frame, and we figured out how to play to each of our strengths to make the process and presentation go as smoothly as we could.” – Josephine Athappilly

Teams are asked to cultivate a solution for a company to achieve their goals, and this quarter the Foster School of Business collaborated with Expedia Group on a case written by Janice Bautista and advised by Rick McPherson. Students were asked to answer two key questions in their solution: 

1. How can Expedia Group continue to position itself as an employer of choice in Seattle among tech employees?

2. With an overall goal of hiring more diverse employees into tech jobs, how can Expedia Group entice more diverse tech talent to join its company?

“This case topic sparked my interest as DEI is an essential piece of all businesses. The prompt reflects the importance of continually innovating and improving DEI strategy in organizations. As a Human Resource Management major, the Strategy Development Case Competition challenged me to apply an array of course knowledge to a real situation. I was lucky to work with a supportive team that encouraged constructive feedback and continuous learning. Through all the long nights of preparation, we were able to build strong connections with one another, which helped our team succeed. From strategizing our idea to pitching to Expedia Group Executives and hearing feedback, I certainly grew as a young business professional. I can now say I’m more confident in my presentation skills and understand what it takes to come up with an innovative, yet actionable plan!” – Madison Allen

With twelve minutes to present their solution, alternatives, implementation timeline, and financial analysis, each team has to be concise in their presentation. After the team concludes, the judges have eight minutes to ask questions for the team to expand on their recommendation. Finally, the judges have five minutes to provide each team with feedback. 

All 60 teams presented in the preliminary round of presentations and had an opportunity to network with the judges during the lunch break. Then, 12 teams moved forward to the final round and presented to the judges one last time. There is one winning team from each final round room. An award ceremony concludes the day, where Foster’s Dean Frank Hodge spoke and the judges announced the three winning teams. 

“Participating in the Case Competition allowed me to see how each class at foster came together. I was able to work through a real life business problem and understand all the different pieces that go into making a strategic business decision.” – Isabella Ghio

The two winning teams were C1: Paul Keum, Mackenzie Leach, Erin Poon, Ramiro Salguero-Ninche, and Vanessa Santamaria and D5: Madelyn Yeh, Josephine Athappilly, Madison Allen, Huanzi Merenz, and Isabella Ghio. 

Team C1’s solution focused on developing a talented university recruiting pool, connecting with new graduates, and improving the internal recruiting process. 

Team C1 with Dean Hodge and Associate Dean Fong smiling at the camera in front of Paccar Hall

Team C1 with Dean Hodge and Associate Dean Fong 

Team D5’s solution created a technology empowerment program for community college students, increased technical interview preparation resources for candidates, and proposed a DEI blog to highlight Expedia Group’s diversity initiatives.

Team D5 smiling and holding W signs to the camera in front of Paccar HallTeam D5

“Participating in the Case Competition allowed me to see how each class at Foster came together. I was able to work through a real life business problem and understand all the different pieces that go into making a strategic business decision.” – Isabella Ghio

Overall, all teams did incredible, and this capstone class has allowed the students a great opportunity to utilize and develop the skills they’ve learned throughout their time at Foster.