Elon MBA Class of 2021 presents strategy recommendations in capstone event

The graduating class applied the knowledge and skills acquired throughout their studies in the program’s annual business case competition.

Forty-seven candidates in the Elon MBA program presented case analyses and recommendations during the annual MBA case competition, a signature experience for each year’s graduating class.

Screen shot of 12 people on Zoom call
The Top 2 Elon MBA Case teams with competition judges Mike Gannaway, Ashley Gangloff, Scott Hayward, and Pieter Swanepoel G’04, and Kristy Ruiz, director of graduate programs .

Over the course of two weeks, 13 teams applied their MBA coursework and experiences to addressing the case problem.

Teams identified the best growth pathway to help Saama Technology, Inc. maintain its profitable fast-growth trajectory while narrowing the company’s focus to one vertical market – the life science industry – for its Life Science Analytics Cloud (LSAC) product. Potential growth pathways included new customer acquisition, customer development and product development.

“This experience has been one of my top experiences in the Elon MBA program,” said Brianne Boldrin, lead business analyst and technical delivery manager at IBM. “This project was truly a group effort. Each team member brought their own unique skills and background to the project, and we worked together to merge the ideas together to become one.”

Boldrin and teammates Andrea Doughty, assistant director of compensation at Duke University; Katherine Norris, assistant director, research training at Duke University; and Amanda Parrish, divisional chief human resources officer at Duke Health; won the competition.

“I’ve developed great relationships with these women over the course of my MBA education, and when we came together and formed this team for the competition, I felt like our team dynamics were very strong,” Norris said. “Each of us brought different strengths and perspectives, which we all valued, and it contributed to the success of our team. I believed in each of these women and completely trusted their intentions and work. There was not a doubt in my mind that they had the best interest of the team and the project in mind throughout the entire process.”

“I was exposed to new ideas by my teammates throughout the process,” Boldrin added. “One of my favorite parts of the Elon MBA program is exposure to new ideas that are outside of what I may hear within my typical bubble (company or industry). Working closely on a capstone competition in a short period of time, expedited this process and allowed me to test what I had learned.”

On Feb. 6, teams conducted presentations virtually to a panel of judges, who included Mike Gannaway, Love School of Business executive-in-residence; Ashley Gangloff, assistant professor of management; Scott Hayward, assistant professor of management; and Pieter Swanepoel G’04, lecturer in accounting. The judges evaluated teams on presentation delivery, solution quality, and a question and answer session.

“My biggest takeaway from the case competition was the realization of how much we’ve learned in the program,” Doughty said. “Each team member adding different strengths to the effort, we applied those learnings and worked as a team under the pressure of high stakes and short deadlines – just as we would in the work environment. The competition highlighted our expanded capabilities and growth as leaders, reflecting the value of the MBA program.”

Placing second in the virtual competition was the team of Kerry Branon, associate vice president at French/West/Vaughan; Gerry Del Valle, consultant at Consilio LLC; and Jasmine Suitt G’17, MBA/MSBA program manager at Elon University.

“While I am looking forward to graduation in May, I am also sad to say goodbye to the Elon MBA,” Parrish noted. “The learning has been so valuable, but the PEOPLE are what make the program! My Elon MBA colleagues have become my friends and greatest cheerleaders over the past three years. We have all worked so hard and learned so much in our time together. The talents, strengths and teamwork of our entire graduating class were showcased at the case competition, and I am in awe of all we’ve accomplished!”

The Elon MBA attracts working professionals from the Triad to the Triangle, with two campus locations in Elon and Research Triangle Park. Students benefit from small class sizes, a curriculum focused on the transfer of course content to practical applications, a flexible schedule, and an extraordinary faculty committed to teaching and engaged learning.