UF MBA students hold a prize check.

UF MBA students bring home the gold from this year’s Race & Case Competition

This January, UF MBA students Charline Pommeret, Josh Geller, Paxton Shamlou and Brody Lee travelled to Denver, Colorado, to compete in the University of Denver Daniels College of Business’ annual Race & Case competition. After weeks of preparation, the team’s hard work paid off and they brought home the gold.

Each year, the Daniels College of Business invites teams from business schools across the country to compete against each other in the conference room and on the slopes. Teams select a business ethics topic in advance and arrive in Colorado with ready solutions – and skis.

UF MBA students do the gator chomp in front of Daniels College of Business. Among the team of four, only one of the Florida students had regular skiing experience. To prepare for the alpine race, the team arrived in Colorado a day early, giving themselves a few hours to become reacquainted with the sport. As a former competitive gymnast, Pommeret (MBA ’23) was thrilled by the new challenge.

“I love challenging myself through new, unique experiences, and especially sports,” she said. “The ski part [of the challenge] is also what makes connections between teams that probably wouldn’t happen solely through the case competition.”

Even more than their athletic ability, however, the team’s business knowledge and presentation skills were put to the test.

“The most challenging aspect of the competition was the competition format and presentation length,” Pommeret said. “We had three weeks to prepare and only 10 minutes to present our recommendation – thus the longest preparation time and the shortest presentation time for a case competition. We did so much research and had so much interesting data to share that it was very hard to condense everything to under 10 minutes.”

Before beginning their preparations for the Race & Case competition, Pommeret, Geller (MBA ’23), Shamlou (MBA ’23) and Lee (MBA ’23) spent three weeks preparing for an internal tryout, competing against their peers in the UF MBA program for a spot in the actual competition. After winning the tryout, the team took another three weeks to hone their skills and compile data for their case.

“During the two preparations (tryout and actual case), we were meeting every day for two or more hours to work on the case,” Pommeret said. “Those meetings included: brainstorming, presenting research findings, playing the devil’s advocate for each new idea, sharing any doubts and concerns regarding our strategy, defining next steps and assigning work. We were all responsible for a specific area of research, for conducting thorough, in-depth analysis and for preparing slides for the presentation.

“Toward the end, we were mostly focusing on perfecting our presentation skills to deliver our recommendation in the most effective and compelling way possible.”

First place medal and trophy. The topic of the team’s winning case was “Wallace Hospital: Seeking Growth in an Age of Crypto Crisis and Global Economic Turbulence.” In this ethics case, the team was challenged to help a fictitious hospital find growth and navigate various challenges, including crypto donations, all while considering the ethical implications of their recommendations. Wallace, the fictitious hospital, specialized in caring for people with spinal cord and brain injuries.

“We recommended that Wallace expand into stroke [recovery] and increase its patient care with virtual reality, while developing a robust ethical strategy that included 1) creating a “Health for All” fund that will help finance therapy for people who cannot afford it and 2) implanting a new donation audit team,” Pommeret said. “We also recommended initiatives on ethical donation vetting processes to tackle the public relations nightmare around crypto donations and help Wallace continuously earn the public’s trust in the long-term through commitment to ethical principles, transparency and accountability.”

With their combined scores of alpine race placement and prowess in case presentation, the UF team won first place overall and a cash prize recognizing their achievement. Pommeret spoke for her teammates in expressing their enthusiasm and gratitude for the experience.

“We are all extremely happy and honored to have been given the chance to represent the UF MBA [program] in Colorado, and to bring back the gold in Florida,” she said. “We worked extremely hard on this competition, so it is very rewarding to receive such positive feedback from a panel of judges and professionals with expertise in the case topic. I also want to add that I am extremely grateful for being given the chance to work with such brilliant team members who all went above and beyond in ensuring that our recommendation was such a success.”

Pommeret also wished to thank the team’s coaches, Carly Escue, Director of Graduate Business Career Services, and Dr. Jenny Susser, Director of Wellbeing and Performance, along with Meghan Blake, Assistant Director of Training & Professional Development, for supporting the team through their preparation process. Looking ahead, Pommeret is anticipating using the skills she gained through this competition in her last semester at UF and beyond as she applies for jobs following graduation.

“Something I firmly believe in and that has been proven again with this competition: hard work pays off – it always does,” she said. “No matter how difficult something seems to be, keep showing up and keep working. Even when the results aren’t guaranteed, hard work is its own reward: at the end of the day, you know you put all the work in, and eventually it will pay off.”