Winning team displays trophy with Baker Hughes representatives.

Students take the lead in global sustainability at Baker Hughes case competition

Classmates talking at their desks. Warrington students have a reputation for taking initiative. Throughout the academic term, teams from each program travel across the state, country and continent to compete in case competitions against the world’s top business students. These competitions are a great opportunity for students to test their business acumen outside of the classroom – but in Anthony Middlebrooks’ leadership course, Baker Hughes brings the competition to them.

Baker Hughes has partnered with the University of Florida Warrington College of Business for four years to challenge students in the Leadership Launch (MAN4930) course to address real sustainability issues. Through the competition, Baker Hughes engages students in its mission to transition the planet’s energy to net zero by 2050.

“Our students are great problem-solvers and tend to jump right into solutions,” said course instructor and Clinical Professor of Leadership Anthony Middlebrooks. “After that initial enthusiasm, I reroute them back to developing their team, analyzing the problem, applying some idea-generating techniques and building a coherent presentation. They love the competitive aspect and really strive to bring their best self to the process and final event.

“They also experience the social and emotional aspects that come with an open-ended problem, limited time and information, working on a diverse team and balancing all that with their other courses and demands.”

Winning team does the Gator Chomp. This year, the case focused on making a specific energy company carbon-neutral by 2050. The winning team – Shane Corrigan (BSBA ’24, BA ’24), Danielle Dudley (BSBA ’24), Abigail Needleman (BSBA ’26), Micaela Miguel Ramirez (BSBA ’25, BA ’25) and Ethan Shaffer (BSBA ’24) – proposed accomplishing this by addressing carbon emissions from gasoline-powered cars and investing in electric vehicles.

“Winning the case competition came as a pleasant surprise, yet we are thrilled by our success,” the team shared. “Presenting our solutions to Baker Hughes representatives was an enriching experience that allowed for both professional and personal growth. The feedback received throughout the competition has been invaluable in refining our strategies and presentation skills.

“Overall, this victory has energized our team and reinforced our commitment to excellence in and out of the classroom.”

Complementing the theme of the course, the competition especially encourages students to strengthen their leadership skills. The winning team expressed that their confidence in themselves as leaders grew from coordinating team meetings and refining their pitch before the big day.

“For me, leadership means inspiring and guiding others toward a common goal, fostering growth and development and setting a positive example through one’s actions and words within one’s community,” Needleman said. “Leadership means being selfless and supportive of your teammates. To be a good leader you also need to communicate effectively and inspire others.”

Carlos Gomez (BSBA ’06, BA’ 06), an alumnus from Warrington’s Hall of Fame and Vice President of Global Partners and Alliances at Baker Hughes, returns to his alma mater every year to represent Baker Hughes and be a part of empowering students to identify themselves with global changemakers. As one of the judges of the competition, he has a front-row seat to watch students step into their potential.

“Personally, we truly enjoy hosting the case competition and aiding the students in evaluating their case strategies, contemplating what potential exists for the short, medium and long term of the energy transition,” Gomez shared. “In the end, the ability to serve as an alumnus of UF in this capacity and getting to know the excellence of UF’s young, bright minds is always a pleasure. Go Gators!”

Corporate engagement plays a critical role in the Warrington student experience by bridging the gap between the classroom and the working world. Through relationships with companies like Baker Hughes, students receive more opportunities for job placement, the chance to explore vocation options they may not have previously considered and enhance the soft skills that are necessary to thrive in their careers. Relationships like these are mutually beneficial, as companies receive access to top talent in action and innovative solutions to their organization’s challenges.