Illinois MBA Women @ NAWMBA
Two weeks ago the Illinois MBA headed to Louisville, KY to attend the National Association of Women MBA (NAWMBA) career fair. While the majority of the attendees were women, students came from all over to meet with companies, attend professional development workshops and network with students and executives alike.
It was a very successful conference thanks to help from companies like Ford, Campbell Soup Company, GE, AT&T, Yum! Brands, Humana and Goldman Sachs. However, with the ideas of 7 universities, 30 women and the sponsorship of Home Depot, a different kind of case competition took place. Using their business-minds and a passion for volunteerism, 5 Illinois MBA women competed and almost took home first place!
With just over a month to prepare for the strategy case competition at NAWMBA, Illinois MBA students Jill Krivacek, Abby Sullivan, Leslie Lopez, Hui Wang and Kristen Lisa had to think outside the box and come up with something creative and extraordinary in order to win. The case was about Shideezhi, a mentoring organization for Navajo teen girls. This organization is compromised of MBA women who provide advice and guidance to these teens in order to give them the knowledge and know-how they need to break free from a life of struggle. Now that the pilot testing phase has been completed, the Executive Director of Shideezhi asked competitors to think about a growth strategy for the next five years. How can we help these girls develop into to capable, successful women? How we support them in their quest to be managers or executives? How can we educate them so that they do not fall victim to the obstacles of the Navajo nation? These questions were the foundation for their strategy and knowing that they could make a difference if they won was their motivation.
Once they made it to the final round and had the opportunity to compete in Louisville, the 5 Illinois MBA women put all their effort into making an impactful presentation. Long hours and creative thinking got them to Louisville, and landed them in front of 5 judges, including the Executive Director of the Shideezhi Foundation. The presentation was well-thought out and the women all spoke with poise and commitment. Illinois was very proud to be represented by such professional women! Although they did not take home a win, they did take home an experience of a lifetime! Case competitions are such a key part of the learning process within the MBA. It truly gives students an opportunity to take the theories they learn in the classroom and apply them in a practical, meaningful way. In this instance, the marketing plans and growth strategies for the Shideezhi will be implemented over time and it was clear that the ideas that were presented were valuable and usable.
Congratulations to the competitors! We hope that you will continue to take advantage of these unique learning experiences as they are so rich with opportunity. As Jill so eloquently said at the end of their presentation, "even if we don't win, we are better, stronger and smarter. Job well done ladies!"