Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kelley brings top talent to Midwest Diversity Case Competition

Students and company recruiters network before the
case competition.

Students from nine area universities competed in
Kelley's first Midwest Diversity Case Competition.
Kelley's Student Diversity Council recently brought together top talent from area universities for its first intercollegiate Midwest Diversity Case Competition.

Erick Ferrer, a Kelley junior majoring in finance and entrepreneurship, said one of his goals when he became president of KSDC was to make the Kelley School of Business "the premier hub for diversity" in business schools and to promote diversity in the business world.




The Student Diversity Council is sponsored by the Kelley Office of Diversity Initiatives, whose director, Malik McCluskey, is the organization's adviser. Since its inception in 2007, KSDC has sponsored a diversity case competition internally at the Kelley School every year. It was always the intent to grow the event to include other schools and, in turn, transform business education at Kelley and throughout the country by supplementing the traditional business curriculum with issues of diversity and inclusion.
Kelley School Dean Dan Smith talks
with participants.

“To my knowledge, this is the only inter-collegiate business case competition devoted to examining diversity and inclusiveness anywhere in the country,” said McCluskey, who added it would be hard to overestimate the importance of the event. 


"People are often only told that we promote these two ideals by 'stepping out of one’s skin.' ... Not only is such advice vague and often unhelpful, but it in fact could make matters much worse, especially without real and concrete examples that show why diversity and inclusiveness are important, why it is incumbent upon all of us to promote these ideals, and what steps we can take to ensure that these ideals govern our institutions and corporations."


Conor Schmitt, a senior majoring in economics and co-director of the event, said KSDC has gotten great support and encouragement from the school.

"The incredible representation of the value Kelley places on diversity is, to me, one of the most important things about the competition," Schmitt said.

KSDC students started working with faculty and top recruiting companies in July, securing judges and sponsorship from six companies: Target Corp., Allstate Insurance, Xerox Corp., Huron Consulting, General Mills and KPMG.
Teams from University of Illinois, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Iowa, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne were invited to the competition, which included a career fair and networking dinner with the sponsors.
 

The teams got the case in advance. The challenge? Help Target, the main sponsor of the event, craft a plan to meet the needs of its Hispanic customers in 25 years, when they are projected to become the retailer's biggest demographic.

"The students competing from other schools were given three weeks to put together their presentation, and the quality of their ideas and presentation of them showed us that they used all three weeks to plan, and used them very well," Schmitt said.


Kelley junior Jon Sobilo, co-director of the event, said the success of the event wouldn't have been possible without the enthusiasm and support of the Kelley faculty, staff and corporate partners.

"As a student, you face an uphill battle, in some respects, in getting others to take your ideas seriously and invest in them. Our experiences could not be farther from this norm," said the finance major. He said he hopes the intercollegiate case competition is indicative of the Kelley School's commitment to diversity initiatives.

"In his address to participants, Dean Dan Smith spoke very eloquently about the need for going beyond diversity in its quantifiable forms -- demographic data, etc.," Sobilo said. "He talked about a 'culture of inclusiveness' where collaboration and progress supersedes any biases and cultural barriers. It's one thing to speak about the need for diversity and equal opportunity. It is an entirely different thing to actually create that environment."


The winners:
1st Place, $5,000: Washington University in St. Louis --
Amanda Signorelli, Kirsten Miller, Jason Yakabu,
Daniel Bernard


2nd Place, $4,000: University of Chicago -- Rodrigo
Andres Blandon Avila, David Akinin, Alberto de
Leoni Ramos Da Costa e Silva


3rd Place, $3,000: Indiana University Kelley School
-- 
Robin JiangJayant J. Trewn, Shirin S. Baradaran,
Hamza Ali Haroon


4th Place, $2,000: University of Minnesota -- Matt
Blumberg, Virginia Chan, Vallari Ajgaonkar, Eric M. White
5th Place, $1,000: University of Illinois -- Frederick
Hayes Jr., Courtney Owens, Kimberly Jones, Lindsey
Morrow




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