Darden School Student Team Wins GE Case Competition
Although they came from different learning groups of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business MBA program, First Year students Genie Ko, Brian Gooch, Michael Conroy and Brandon Prather found each other and, in their dogged pursuit of first place, the winning formula that netted them the GE Mid Atlantic Regional Experienced Commercial Leadership Program (ECLP) Case Competition Award. Prather received the award for best group presenter, which enhanced the thrill of the team’s big win. The event happened on Friday, 26 October 2012, and next month the winners will head to New York, where they will have the chance to interview for summer associate intern positions with GE’s ECLP.
Since 2009, the GE ECLP Case Competition has pitted the brightest B-school minds against each other in a battle to find the best solutions to a GE business challenge. This year’s winners, one from each of the four competing regions, presented their ideas before seven GE executives who served as judges.
Darden’s winning teammates said that synergy and trust were key to their success.
“We all had ideas and we worked so well together,” said Ko. “We would work individually and then come together and challenge each other.”
“We never took offense when we received constructive criticism. We had positive intent and we each got along,” added Prather.
The team first competed in the Darden marketing case competition where they emerged as finalists. They went on to the ECLP competition where they ultimately bested teams from the Wharton School of Business, George Washington School of Business and Kenan-Flagler School of Business. Their first case examined electric cars and alternative fuels. The winning argument examined aviation at GE.
The seven GE executives who attended the competition were impressed. They agreed that the Darden team’s ideas would go over well with GE’s decision-makers.
The Darden team attributed their presentation prowess to the importance they placed on storytelling.
“Business life is filled with storytelling: selling, persuasion and influencing. Leadership, the capacity to enlist others in a cause, asks people to embrace a story,” wrote Darden Dean Bob Bruner in one of his well-known blog posts.
The team followed his advice and had great success.
“We went from nothing to awesome!” said Gooch. “This experience embodied the Darden classroom experience, the learning team experience and the final exam experience.”
“Darden strengthened our skills and gave us the tools we needed to take on this competition and expand our horizons,” said Conroy.
“We’re all career switchers,” Gooch added. “So the opportunity allowed us to venture into new areas.”
The team also had advice for their fellow students who might consider entering future case competitions: Jump in.
“Don’t be turned off by the particular club that’s sponsoring the competition. Students stand to learn much from venturing into different professional areas,” said Conroy.
The team also agreed that Darden students should avoid selecting people with whom they are the most familiar by looking across MBA sections for teammates.
After all, the approach worked well for Ko, Gooch, Conroy and Prather.”
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia