University of Southern California

Tech Innovators
Marshall MBAs take First and Third in New Deloitte Challenge
February 18, 2014 • by News at Marshall

USC Marshall School of Business MBA students won the inaugural MBA Technology Innovation Challenge virtual case competition, held Nov. 8 to 18, 2013, and sponsored by Deloitte Consulting and Target. A second Marshall team also clinched third place.

The competition drew 103 teams representing 30 top business schools across the country from which Deloitte recruits MBA talent. Students were tasked with creating innovative solutions to help Target fuel growth in today’s evolving retail marketplace, specifically by suggesting ways in which they would leverage technology to transform Target’s business model. They were given two weeks to develop strategies and pitch their ideas via three-to-five minute video submissions. The videos were judged by representatives from Deloitte Consulting’s Technology practice and Target’s Enterprise Strategy group.

Marshall’s first-place team was Shivam Verma, Karen Rudy, Olga Levchik and Jonathan Weng, who recommended a creative approach for Target to enhance their already-strong guest relationships through gamification, personalization and loyalty rewards. Marshall’s third-place team was Holden Capriotti, Ian Lauridsen, Manny Lopez and Angella Nguyen, who proposed that Target institute same-day delivery.

“Our solution addressed some of the key challenges facing brick-and-mortar retailers today: growing web sales, unifying the online and offline experience, and engaging young, tech-savvy consumers,” said Rudy. “I think the Target team appreciated that our solution wasn’t too ‘pie in the sky,’ but addressed real problems and could be implemented within a two-year timeframe.”

Marshall entered nine teams in the virtual competition. Six advanced to the second round, which had 30 teams; and two made it to the final round of 12 teams. All of the students were first-year full-time MBAs.

“The Marshall teams prevailed over the nation’s best business schools for a couple of reasons,” said Jayson Gasper MBA ’13, a Deloitte consultant who coached all nine Marshall teams. “First, the upfront planning and logical structuring of their proposal came through in the video: they very clearly and effectively set up the problem, explained the solution and defined the impact. Second, the production value of their videos was superior. The first-place team used a whiteboard concept like the one in the UPS commercials, and it was awesome. It really connected.”

The winning team was invited to the final round of summer associate interviews with Deloitte Consulting’s Technology practice. MBA summer associates are selected after a rigorous process that includes two rounds of interviews with Deloitte personnel and a visit to their prospective office location.

“USC Marshall students bring a special combination of technical, people and process skills to everything they do,” said Jan Roehl-Anderson MBA ’82, a partner in Deloitte Consulting’s Technology practice who leads their technology recruiting at USC Marshall. “That is why they did so well in the Challenge and why they are ideal candidates for Deloitte Consulting.”

As a first-year MBA student, Gasper said he was part of four case competition teams: three of them won first place and the fourth was a finalist. “We did inordinately well in everything we entered,” he said. “I think Marshall’s collaborative spirit is part of the reason, and really distinguishes the USC Marshall MBA program. The Marshall Case Competition Program was started with the purpose of training fellow students to do well in these competitions.”

The Marshall case teams’ track record speaks for itself. “In 2012-2013, we placed in the top three in almost half (48 percent) of the competitions we competed in,” said Anne Ziemniak, associate director of the full-time MBA program. “So far this year, we’ve competed in 17 competitions, with six first-place finishes, three second-place finishes and two third-place finishes.”

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.