Neeley School hosts marketing competition for students across the country


Students listen to a keynote speaker at the arrival dinner.

By Madison Goforth

The 3rd Annual PepsiCo MBA Invitational Business Case Competition hosted by the TCU Neeley School of Business is a competition made up of 32 MBA students from around the nation.

Ed Riefenstahl, director of experiential learning within Neeley, said this competition is unique because the students don’t know who their team is until they arrive on campus.

“Participants have the opportunity to get real-life business experience,” he said. “They have to work with people they have never met to present a top-of-the-line innovative product to a panel of judges from a leading retailer in the country.

Students arrived in the atrium of Rees-Jones Hall Friday evening for dinner and a keynote speaker. This was the first time the competitors met their teammates.

Zach Ely, Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management participant, said this competition is unique from others.

“It is super collaborative,” he said. “At Vanderbilt, you get used to the people you’re surrounded with and here I got to meet all different people from different schools.”

The teams are presented with two new, innovative products: a beverage and chip case. The teams have exactly five hours to prepare for their presentation in front of the judges, PepsiCo executives.

PepsiCo has a total of 22 national brands and six global brands. The global brands include Pepsi, Lays and Gatorade.

Riefenstahl said all competitors are from prestigious schools around the country that PepsiCo is interested in recruiting from. For students, this opportunity could secure an internship with PepsiCo over the summer.

“This is a differentiator for these students because they can show employers they have done something more to grow in their own personal development,” he said.

Rooney said the president of Frito-Lay North America, Mr. Vivek Sankaran, spent Friday evening answering questions from students.

“This was such a great weekend for everyone involved,” she said. “I think students will leave this thinking differently because of all the real-life situations and issues they experienced.”

Austin Gilbertson, University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business participant, said the feeling after his team finished the presentation was excitement and relief.

“We were doing high fives out in the lobby,” he said. “I think I was sweating through my shirt! It was awesome and so much fun.”

There was an awards dinner Saturday evening at Joe T. Garcia’s, where the first, second and third place teams received checks for $7,000, $5,000 and $3,000.

Hope Scott, Columbia Business School participant, said she had a lot more fun than she thought she would.

“This has set the bar high for the case competitions that follow,” she said.