Farmer School teams take 2 of top 3 spots in West Monroe Partners case competition

Farmer School team makes its final presentation

Teams of Farmer School students took two of the top three spots in the 2020 West Monroe Partners Case Competition last week. This year’s competition drew more than twice as many teams as last year, with students from Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Notre Dame, Depauw, and Purdue as well as Miami.

The teams were tasked with finding solutions for up-and-coming hard seltzer brand “Black Paw,” then presenting their production, staffing, and marketing ideas to West Monroe Partners employees. The top four teams then sat down with the employees to go over their presentations and fine-tune them before going on to make their presentations to a group of WMP executives, who determined the winners.

“Interacting with these professionals and working on a team with them was a very unique experience,” Farmer School senior accountancy major Arnav Damodhar explained. “It gave me a better insight to West Monroe and the work culture they strive to cultivate.”

The Farmer School team of Alex Vasapolli, Alexander Beegle, Demetre Carnot, James Stablein, and John Giroux came in second, while Damodhar, Emma Murabito, Joseph Onorato, Meredith Haught, and Michael Klass took third place.

“We are extremely pleased with the 2nd place finish. Although we put in a lot of hard work and really wanted to win, we’re an all-sophomore team competing against a lot of older students, and there is nothing to be disappointed about,” Beegle said. “You can count on our team coming out again next year and taking another strong shot at getting the win.”

“It was exciting to be competing against teams from schools all across the Midwest region and still place in the top three,” Haught noted. “I was extremely proud that our team's hard work paid off.”

A team from the University of Illinois took first place, while a University of Wisconsin team finished fourth.

Maddie Bessinger, a senior consultant in mergers and acquisitions at WMP and a 2016 FSB graduate, said the case the teams were presented was a good example of something they would be given in the real world. “I think it's really real. We give them a pretty ambiguous case that does have data in it, but it has a lot of gaps for them to fill in, which is very similar to what you'll see in a client environment,” she explained. “I think it was a good lesson for them on making assumptions and using data to back up your assumptions, which a lot of them did really well.”

One of the finals’ judges, Jodi Bednar, a WMP director in energy and utilities, said the students taking part in the competition get a real feel for the consulting business in the process. “I think one of the things that they can take away in a business case like this is really doing some critical thinking and assessment of how to approach complex problems for our clients. That's what consulting is all about. So they can learn a lot of the kind of basic approaches and skills to solving those complex problems.”

“We learned a lot about the inner workings of a company’s financials in order to make our financial model in excel. We also had to learn on the fly how to make last-minute changes to our overall presentation based on the feedback we received from the first round,” Beegle pointed out. “This was extremely difficult as we had rehearsed our presentation for a whole day and had to change in minutes before the final presentation.”

“My team found itself heavily relying on the inter-disciplinary curriculum we have learned throughout the Farmer School of Business. We learned more about industries and fields of study we normally would not learn about due to our specific concentrations,” Damodhar remarked. “This experience gave us a glimpse about the analytical mindset and the intricacies required to operate a successful business.”

Check out images from the competition on our Facebook page

Second place team and judges group photo

Third place team and judges group photo