University of Southern California

Meeting the Challenge to Market a New Car
Marshall MBA Students Emerge with Win at NBMBAA Case Competition
October 9, 2012 • by News at Marshall

The fall sports season is about halfway through, but four of USC Marshall’s business-savvy Trojans already have a championship to their name. In September, a team of Marshall MBA students won the National Black MBA Association Conference Case Competition in Indianapolis.

Marshall students Stella Ashaolu, Sharifa Haye, Christina Marshall, and Desmond Stubblefield will split the $25,000 prize they won in the competition, which was sponsored by Chrysler. The 36 participating teams were tasked with the best way to price, market, distribute, and ultimately sell a vehicle to consumers.

“It’s a full rollout,” Haye said about the team’s presentation of their project. “Marketing, distribution, pricing, financials. We had to have everything covered.”

Imagine the reality show American Idol except without being able to hear your competition singing on the stage. Then add in six judges instead of Idol’s three or four and you have the final round of the case competition.

In the first round, teams competed in groups of six in front of three judges, with two of those judges being representatives of Chrysler. The top team from each of the six groups advanced to the finals the next day, where each team had to present in front of all the eliminated teams as well as the six judges.

Marshall’s team arrived in Indianapolis Wednesday afternoon. Two days and less than five hours of sleep later, victory was in hand. The work itself though, started weeks before when the team first received the case. “We spent about four hours a day working on the case in the beginning,” Ashaolu said.

Being from different business backgrounds, the students developed their own roles in contributing to the overall team plan and presentation. “For me, being a [part-time] MBA P.M. student afforded me a lot of connections to seek advice from people and students more involved in the electric vehicle industry,” Haye said.

While each member will take home $6,250 each in prize money, they also return with real world, industry-based experience that money can’t buy.

“It was great to actually implement all the things we’re learning at Marshall and see how those things would be used in real life,” said Haye. “Whether it’s marketing, finance, or strategy, we got to put them all in one place and execute our plan.”

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.