Neeley students pitch ideas to save Starbucks

Business students competed in a case study involving ways to improve coffee conglomerate Starbucks as part of the Neeley School of Business’ Leadership Week.

Greg Hamre, competition participant and junior finance major, said each group was required to come into the competition as if they were a consulting team for Starbucks.

The teams were all given a case study titled “Trouble at Starbucks: Will the Visionary Founder Howard Schultz be Able to Transform the Company?” and asked to present their recommendations and plans of action for improving the “Starbucks Experience,” Hamre said.

According to the case study, the “Starbucks Experience” has been diminishing. Schultz’s vision included the Barista’s knowing the names of regular customers and their preferred drink. Starbucks also intended to be a comfortable “third place” between home and work, according to the study.

The teams presented solutions that included installing microchips into membership cards, which would give details, such as the name and recent orders of customers, and buying local baked goods to sell at Starbucks to create a hometown feel.

“It’s huge for the students involved.” said Dan Novak, a competition judge and alliance executive for IBM. “Just going through the process of having to prepare for (the competition), deliver and execute is a great exercise for the students,” Novak said.

Dede Williams, assistant director of student leadership programs, said Neeley Leadership Week is a week of activities and competitions open to all undergraduate and graduate students that was created in order to focus on leadership skills. The week included high-profile leadership speakers, panel discussions about community service, and student leadership case competitions, she said.

Williams said nine teams of three to five students were in the competition and each team had 10 days to prepare its presentation. The teams were given 20 minutes to present their case analyses and then a 10 minute question and answer session with the judges, she said.

Kirk Oliver, member of last year’s winning team, one of the judges of this year’s competition and market analyst for American Airlines, said being involved in the case competition for two years has been very beneficial to him.

“Last year, coming out of the competition I gained confidence,” Oliver said. “It kind of helped me come out of my shell and realize I have the skills to compete with other students and out in the working world.”

Charlie Hornsby, member of the first place team and MBA student, said he was surprised his team won the competition.

“I knew we had a strong presentation, but I knew just because we were graduate students did not mean we had the full advantage,” Hornsby said. “Having a high level of competition pushed everyone to a higher standard.”

The first place team in the case competition was awarded $2,000, second place received $1,200 and the third place team received $800.

Neeley Leadership Week Case Competition Results

First Place

“DW Consulting”

Chris Benson- MBA with emphasis on supply chain management

Scott Coats- MBA with emphasis on supply chain management>br>

Jason Dunn- MBA with emphasis on supply chain management

Charlie Hornsby- MBA with emphasis on supply chain management

Zach Skelton- MBA with emphasis on supply chain management

Second Place

“Bentley Consulting”

Kathryn Bentley- junior finance and marketing major

Jeff Livney- junior entrepreneurial and marketing major

Kirsten Locke- junior supply chain management major

Annmarie Olind- junior marketing major

Allison Thomas- junior accounting major

Third Place

“Arrowhead Consulting”

Jillian Bailey- senior accounting major

Kelsey Biegert- Master of accounting program

Brandon Diviney- Master of accounting program

Matt Kubic- Master of accounting program

David Towe- senior accounting major