Earlier this month, while Seattle experienced some rare days of snow and ice, four Foster undergraduates and their faculty advisor traveled to equally chilly Washington, D.C., to compete in Georgetown University’s McDonough Business Strategy Challenge (MBSC). The competition, lasting from February 5th through March 9th, consisted of a healthy mix of rigorous case work and cultural immersion. Ben Vandehey, Davin Yeom, Erik Nielsen, and Serena Allendorfer, along with Associate Dean Vikki Haag Day, spent their non-case cracking time exploring Washington, D.C. before diving into case presentations. Read on to learn more about the team and their experience at MBSC!
Foster Team from left to right: Ben, Erik, Vikki Haag Day, Davin, Serena
“Competing in MBSC has opened my eyes to not only the non-profit sector but also the corporate social responsibilities many companies deal with today. Most of the case studies and competitions business students engage with are profit-based and naturally the biggest emphasis is placed on strategies that increase revenue. This competition has shown me first-hand that sometimes the numbers are not about the financial impact of the company but the impact it can have on the people. Our team has learned the importance of creating positive influence on all stakeholders while maintaining feasibility and satisfying the needs of the organization. We had an amazing opportunity to network with professionals dedicated to causes to improve both corporations and non-profits and made new friends across the globe along the way. I truly appreciated the experience to remind ourselves of the triple bottom line, and the duty our generation has to make more conscious business decisions as we head into the society.”
– Davin Yeom, Senior studying Accounting & Information Systems
Foster Team Champions with Case Sponsors
“From early mornings touring the Library of Congress to late nights watching the State of the Union with teams from all over the world, our week in Washington, D.C. was full of adventure. We toured different monuments, walked around art museums, and drank in the history that surrounded us. Our team was tasked with devising a strategy for attracting, engaging, and retaining a diverse group of volunteers for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. A strong emphasis on the power of storytelling was a central theme for our strategy, and we built our solution off an existing social media campaign to generate this new influx of volunteers. Given that this was a nonprofit case, it was necessary to understand business beyond consumption and profit-maximizing frameworks. Finding mechanisms to quantify social and environmental impact at a high level is just as, if not more important than, basic financial assumptions. It was a challenge to think beyond these basic calculations to finalize a sustainable organizational strategy that would be of long-standing benefit to the client. I am incredibly lucky to have been given this opportunity through the Foster School of Business, and it was a pleasure sharing this victory with such a supportive team.”
– Serena Jonel Allendorfer, Senior studying Information Systems
Foster Team exploring the Washington D.C. sights!
“The McDonough Strategy Challenge was the first case competition that I participated in outside of UW, and the combination of the city, the case, and my team made the experience one for the books. Between walking the monuments with the Stetson and Emory teams, running to the White House with Serena one crisp morning, or grabbing brunch at Founding Farmers on Pennsylvania Ave, the team bonding made us a strong, relationship-driven group. The late nights spent on the case seemed short since they were nights spent with friends, rather than just coworkers. The case itself provided a fresh perspective on case competitions. We were tasked with helping a nonprofit create a new volunteer acquisition and retention strategy. As the finance person on the team, I entered prep believing it was my goal to maximize NPV, but in the context of a nonprofit, I had to completely flip my mindset to maximize value; I had to consider the human side of business. I still conducted a financial analysis of our plan but focused those numbers on the impact that could be made for the people the organization helped.
To any student considering representing Foster at a domestic or international case, I highly recommend the experience. I also encourage you to look into joining the Global Case Competition Club (GC3), the UW RSO that helped me develop my case competition skills. Finally, I would like to thank the Global Business Center, the Undergraduate Programs Office, and the Foster school for making our trip possible, and my team for making the trip memorable.
– Ben Vandehey, Junior studying Finance and CISB
Foster Champions of MBSC 2019!
“Competing at Georgetown University’s McDonough Business Strategy Challenge was an unbelievable experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Case competitions in general were a foreign idea to me until this year but participating in them has been the best decision I’ve made at the UW. The competition was a whirlwind experience that I am so privileged to have been a part of. Our case about the American Cancer Society challenged us and stretched our thinking in new ways. It was the first time I had ever been judged by the actual clients to it changed how we approached the problem. My teammates were so talented, and I was honored to be placed in such good company for the competition. They taught me so much about consulting, problem solving, competition strategies, and how to have fun doing it. We were able to bond so much together and meet other teams from around the world. I made some lifelong friends and connections on this trip, learned more than I ever expected, and had the time of my life.”
– Erik Nielsen, Junior studying Information Systems and Operations Management
Foster Team exploring Washington, D.C.
The Global Business Center and Foster Undergraduate Program Office is proud to sponsor these students and promote international collaboration across the globe. To find out more about case competitions and opportunities to compete in them, follow the Global Business Center on Facebook and check out the Global Competitions page on the GBC website.