You are here: Home / News Release Archives / 2011 / February / Smeal Team Takes Second Place in International Marshall Cup

Smeal Team Takes Second Place in International Marshall Cup

A team of four undergraduates from the Penn State Smeal College of Business finished in second place in the Marshall International Case Competition held on Feb. 15-19 and hosted by the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.
February 28, 2011

A team of four undergraduates from the Penn State Smeal College of Business finished in second place in the Marshall International Case Competition held on Feb. 15-19 and hosted by the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.

Twenty-nine teams from the world's leading business schools were invited to participate in this year's competition, held on the USC campus in Los Angeles. After 24 hours of preparation and two rounds of presentations, Smeal's team of Chris Gray, Paul Lerew, Theresa Piazza, and Courtney Powell bested all of the teams but one, New Zealand's University of Auckland.

The competition officially kicked off on the morning of Feb. 18 when the teams received the case and had 24 hours to prepare their presentations. The case centered on developing a new global human resources strategy for Hewlett-Packard. Several HP executives served as judges for the competition, in addition to others from business, government and academia. Teams were judged based on the quality of their analysis, their presentations, and their ability to answer the judges' questions.

For their presentation, the members of Smeal's team drew inspiration from one of Penn State's signature athletic cheers and developed a plan of engagement for HP employees centered on the theme of "We Are HP." They focused on uniting HP employees worldwide while also celebrating the many diverse cultures represented in the regions where HP has a presence around the world. The team spent its 24 hours of preparation time in a hotel room researching HP's HR initiatives and policies and devising an overarching strategy to attract, retain and engage the company's more than 300,000 employees.

The team's preparation began a few weeks prior to the contest by studying cases from prior years' competitions and reviewing videos of past performances by Smeal participants with faculty adviser Andy Gustafson, assistant professor of business administration. Gustafson, who has advised Smeal teams in the Marshall International Case Competition for years, including during two Marshall Cup victories in 2001 and 2003, critiqued the team's performance during practice sessions and pointed out strengths and weaknesses in past teams' presentations.

During the first round of the competition, Smeal was grouped with the University of Minnesota, The National University of Singapore, and Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi (Italy). After advancing out of the group round, the team competed in the final round against the University of Texas, Thammasat University (Thailand), the University of Manchester (United Kingdom), the University of Auckland, and USC.

Three of the team members—Gray, Piazza and Powell—have competed together in previous case competitions, and Powell credits that experience for their success in California.

"We all knew each other and our respective strengths going into this competition," she says. "We didn't have to spend much time honing our presentation skills because we've done this before. We knew what we had to do presentation-wise, so we could focus all of our efforts on developing a strategy that addressed the case."

In addition to the competition itself, the four-day schedule included several social activities to allow the participants to get to know each other before the competing began. They participated in a scavenger hunt in Santa Monica, tours of the USC campus and CBS studios, and even a bull-riding contest.

Beyond the hard skills the team sharpened in the competition itself, Powell says the best part of the experience was competing with, and getting to know, students from more than a dozen countries around the world.

"The whole experience had a more global feel to it than other competitions, from the case itself to our competitors," she says. "It was incredibly valuable just to be able to compete with so many high caliber students from around the world. It really helped us all to grow our global perspective."

Not only will these new contacts potentially be a boon to her future career, but Powell adds that she's looking forward to visiting her new friends around the world after she graduates next year.

For more information and a complete list of the schools that participated in the Marshall International Case Competition, visit www.marshall.usc.edu/undergrad/buad/international/case.

Recent News
Penn State Smeal team finishes second in inaugural Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition 18 Dec Penn State Smeal team finishes second in inaugural Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition

A team of MBA students from the Penn State Smeal College of Business finished second in the inaugural Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition, which the college recently hosted in its Business Building on the Penn State University Park campus.

Rost Named Fall 2014 Smeal Student Marshal 15 Dec Rost Named Fall 2014 Smeal Student Marshal

The Penn State Smeal College of Business has named Daniel Rost as the student marshal for fall 2014.

Final Five Teams to Vie for $17,500 in Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition 01 Dec

Five teams of MBA students from programs in the U.S. will compete Dec. 5 for $17,500 in prize money in the inaugural Penn State Smeal College of Business MBA Sustainability Case Competition.

Businessweek ranks Smeal MBA Program No. 2 in ROI 17 Nov

The Penn State Smeal MBA Program ranks No. 2 in return on investment according to the latest Bloomberg Businessweek rankings.

Smeal Names Four New Members to Its Board of Visitors 31 Oct

The Penn State Smeal College of Business has named four new members to its Board of Visitors. Joining the board are Jon Grosso, ’89, executive vice president and director of stores for Kohl’s Department Stores; Ron Morgan, ’93, co-founder of MorganFranklin Consulting; Stephen Reeves, ’81, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Enviva Holdings; and Salomon “Sal” Sredni, ’87, chief executive officer of TradeStation Group, Inc.

More Recent News... More Recent News...