A Glimpse into the World of Case Competitions: Lessons Learned from United Airlines x Kellstadt Marketing Group

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By Noelle Rotte

As graduate business students, we are challenged to think critically, analyze data, and devise strategic solutions to real-world problems. One of the most exciting ways to put these skills to the test is through participation in case competitions. Recently, I had the opportunity to compete in my first case competition. It was challenging – and immensely rewarding.

A case competition involves teams coming together to tackle a business problem presented by a company or organization. It’s an opportunity for students to apply classroom knowledge to real-life scenarios — often under tight time constraints and intense pressure. These competitions give business students the chance to hone essential skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, presentation, and problem-solving.

In collaboration with United Airlines, the Kellstadt Marketing Group organized a case competition that pitted ten teams against each other. My team included three full-time MBA students: myself (Noelle Rotte), Shihab Chowdhury, and Alessia Serafino. Each team was tasked with devising a marketing strategy for United’s new uniform rollout. I was especially excited about the target audience for this marketing strategy. United has a diverse employee base; we had to consider how our strategy would resonate with people of all different generations, genders, races, ethnicities and other identities.

The competition began with teams submitting proposals outlining the marketing strategies they would use and how each strategy should be implemented. After the initial proposals were reviewed, five of the ten teams went on to the second round. Luckily, my team made it to the second round!

We were charged with bringing our proposals to life through a presentation. Each team was paired with a previous KMG president to bounce ideas from and provide feedback on what to include. We were paired with Zach Bosy, a Brand Manager of Disruptive Innovation at Kraft Heinz.

On the day of the presentation, we were filled with a mixture of nerves and excitement. We felt prepared; we had completed and practiced our presentation, limited to just 15 minutes, the day before. Despite being the first team to present, we delivered our proposal with confidence. The subsequent question-and-answer session provided us with valuable insights and challenged us to defend our ideas.

Although my team did not emerge as the winners (shout-out to Devika Chaddha, Nikita Nese, and Souman Sami who came in first!) the experience left a lasting mark on me. It emphasized the significance of understanding your audience’s needs, the importance of preparation, and the value of taking risks.

So, to all aspiring business leaders: seize opportunities like these! They offer a unique chance to refine your skills, expand your network, and embark on a journey of self-discovery.