Business students compete nationally

After nearly a month of preparing, three Florida A&M University students from the School of Business and Industry will compete in the 14th Annual National Black MBA Association Case Competition.

The team and their two advisers leave Wednesday morning for Washington, D.C. to go against 34 other schools. Of those 34, a number of them include prestigious institutions, like Columbia University and New York University. Finalists will be announced Thursday after the preliminary round, and the competition’s top three winners will be announced and awarded $15,000 to split among the team.

With last year’s team setting the pace, as the first team from a historically black university to win first place and the only school in Florida to compete, one of the team’s co-advisers, Professor Joycelyn Finley-Hervey, said she has a new objective in mind.

“As the first HBCU to win first place in Chrysler’s (the competition’s sponsor) 13 year history, this year’s objective is to be the first to win it twice,” said the professor of management.

In order to choose participants, the advisers took students they taught during the year, evaluated them and explained they were looking for team members. At the end of the year, they took volunteers and made a selection based on their experience.

The three participants include: John Hinson, Jr., 23, the team’s captain and a graduating MBA student from Miami; Lia Naomi White, 21, a fifth-year MBA student from Greenville, S.C., and Tiffani Davis, 22, a graduating MBA student from Dallas.

“The students will be addressing the decision of whether or not Chrysler should enter the market of India and propose a three year business plan if they are interested in entering that market,” Finley-Hervey said.

This year’s competition sponsor Chrysler presented a case called, “Chrysler goes global.”

“The case includes issues of management, marketing and accounting,” Finley-Hervey said. “This is what makes the competition worthy of participation, –(because) it includes a multidisciplinary aspect to it.”

The group began with a prep stage that involved analyzing background information and formulating processes to make their presentation presentable in written, visual and verbal formats for the judges.

“The most challenging thing is everything is so broad and there is so much information to condense into a 20-minute presentation,” Hinson said.

Between taking care of a new born baby and working on SACS reports for the university’s reaffirmation, co-advisor Professor Shawnta Friday-Stroud, said trying to find time to train the team is challenging, but definitely not impossible.

“Luckily they (the students) were very proactive and diligent in doing the things we had asked them to do,” Friday-Stroud said. “A lot of times we met during the day, at night and on weekends.”

Finley-Hervey said she and Friday-Stroud took more of a Socratic approach in their advising.

“They assess the case and present it to us and we ask questions to have them think critically about what they propose,” Finley-Hervey said. “We never tell them what to do. Its really they’re work and creativity.”

White said she believes their achievements can make a positive statement.

“We’re doing this to represent FAMU, represent ourselves and SBI, and increase recruitment,” White said. “A lot can be said should we win. It will be indicative of the kind of education we receive. I feel like we can do it.”

Although intimidation may have been a factor last year, considering the reputable competition, Finley-Hervey said she doesn’t think it will be an issue this year.

“That means FAMU also ranks top tier, so this team may be more confident since we won last year. It’s long overdue that FAMU gets the credit for the quality students we produce.”