Neeley students join national case competition

Full-time MBA students from 17 universities across the country will join TCU MBAs in competing in the first Neeley Sales and Marketing Strategy Competition sponsored by Sony Electronics today and Saturday.

Fifty-five MBA students from TCU and 17 other universities across the country will work in teams of five to create recommendations to present to a panel of Sony executives, Ed Riefenstahl, Neeley’s director of Experiential Learning said.

Each team of five will be composed of students from different universities, including Harvard, Emory, Pepperdine, Rice and Baylor, and will spend the morning working on the case, Riefenstahl said.

Executives will be given students’ resumes, and students will have opportunities to follow up with the executives after the competition, Riefenstahl said.

Each team will have five questions to answer about The Reader Digital Book by Sony, a digital device that allows people to download books and read them while on the go. Riefenstahl said this case is timely because launched a similar product in December.

This is the first national case competition at TCU and the first case competition Sony has sponsored. TCU based its competition on the University of Rochester’s case competition.

“Our MBAs went up there for two years and loved it,” Riefenstahl said.

Ryan Elcock, a Neeley MBA student and competition participant, said he is participating in the competition because he wants to contribute to Sony.

“I want to see if something I suggest will help,” Elcock said. “I want to see if I have what it takes.”

Sony will award the first-place team $6,000 to split and give each team member a Sony Portable Book Reader. The second-place team will receive $4,000 and the third-place team will receive $2,000. Sony will also give out special awards for the competition, which will be held in Smith Hall.

Dennis McTighe, senior vice president of Sony consumer sales, said Sony’s sponsoring the competition will give the company an opportunity to see top students from across the country.

“It will give us the opportunity to find prospective employees,” McTighe said.

Each school will send no more than five students to the competition. Because Neeley is hosting the competition, however, TCU will have one student on each of the 11 teams.

TCU MBAs applied and were selected based on their resumes and concentrations, Elcock said.

Riefenstahl said participating in the competition will test students’ quantitative and qualitative skills.

“(They) will come up with real solutions or recommendations for specific issues that Sony is dealing with in a compressed amount of time,” Riefenstahl said.

Elcock said participating in the competition will give him the opportunity to “think on the fly.”

“You really have to be willing to get outside your comfort zone and think outside the box,” Elcock said.

McTighe said he hopes Sony will be able to use some of the students’ advice from the case competition.

“We are giving them a real-life case that is going on right now and we want their advice on,” McTighe said.

Riefenstahl said the competition will give the business school the opportunity to establish long-term relationships with Sony and that Neeley hopes to continue this competition in the future.