Left to right: David Yingling, coach Kal Joshi, Gunnar Zielinski, John Rouse, and Emelia Stephan
When Carson College business students John Rouse (’18 Int. Bus., Mktg.), Emelia Stephan (’18 Int. Bus.), David Yinling (’18 Int. Bus., Mktg.), and Gunnar Zielinski (’17 Mgmt. & Op.) met for the first time in fall 2017, they weren’t quite sure what the next few months would have in store.
Each had been recruited by Kalvin Joshi, case competition coach and associate professor of management, information systems, and entrepreneurship, to compete against some of the top business schools in the country at the international business case competitions in San Diego and Boston.
Professor Joshi had asked each student to deliver a five-minute presentation in front of the other team members to evaluate their communication skills and identify which areas would need to be further developed.
What they thought would be a brief meeting turned into more than two hours of discussion. The group quickly formed a connection, and it was obvious their chemistry would become the foundation for the team’s later success.
“I think that was one of the strengths of our team, and what Professor Joshi was looking for was how well this small group of people could work together,” says Rouse. “It just flowed naturally.”
BEING AMONG THE ELITE
For the next two months, the team prepared for competition through analyzing business cases, group strategy sessions, and meeting with their coach.
Case competitions have a straightforward format: teams strive to develop the best solution to a business case study within an allotted time. Teams then present their findings and recommendations to a panel of judges.
The team’s winning proposal focused on strategies to increase sales for Godiva Chocolates. The team suggested using in-store cafés to expand the company’s offerings, creating a strategic marketing campaign, and developing a customer-centric experience to cultivate a deeper relationship with the company and drive engagement with the brand.
The importance of training and preparation cannot be understated. Schools such as Temple, Villanova, Northeastern, Brigham Young, and the University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business— ranked #1 in international business— are there to win.
“People don’t always realize WSU is competing against some of the top business schools in the United States for international business,” says Joshi. “These are elite teams.”
The months of hard work and dedication paid off for the WSU team—they placed first in San Diego, and third a couple weeks later in Boston. Both triumphs are a direct result of the team’s skill and commitment to rigorous training.
Now Rouse, Stephan, Yinling, and Zielinski stand among those elite teams. They all agree the experience was rewarding in many ways and helped strengthen their public speaking, presentation, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
And their success was just as rewarding for their coach. “You can’t get this type of learning opportunity or this type of professional training experience in the classroom,” Joshi says. “It’s wonderful for me to see them grow from the process.”