Economics Team Finishes First in Competition

March 3, 2016
Owain Heyden
Oberlin’s winning economics team poses with Peoples Bank CEO Chuck Sulerzyski (far right) at the annual Peoples Bank Undergraduate Business Case Competition. Photo credit: Peoples Bank

On February 6, the Oberlin College Economics team placed first in the Peoples Bank Undergraduate Business Case Competition. Students Young Kyung Kim, Kian Williams, and Cicely Wang split the $1,500 prize money. This was Oberlin’s first year competing.

Fourteen teams from eleven colleges met in Marietta, Ohio, to deliver their approaches to a real-world business scenario, or “case.” Presentations lasted 25 minutes, followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer session. The Peoples Bank CEO and three other company executives formed the judges panel.

Teams were given two months to prepare their presentations on the case. In Oberlin’s case, the team made it into a winter-term project.

The business case had three deliberations: a recommendation on an acquisition, a hiring decision, and a new product. Judges evaluated the students based on their analysis of the issues, their recommended course of action, their implementation plan, and the depth of their research.

Visiting Instructor of Economics Beth Tallman served as the team’s faculty advisor and mentor.

“Our team completed extensive research, which was very obvious to the judges, and they did an outstanding job of considering the Peoples Bank culture in all of their recommendations. As their coach, I was very impressed and extremely proud of the job they did. They made my coaching job easy. Once they got going, all they really needed was some fine tuning along the way,” Tallman says.

Fourth-year economics major Kian Williams says he was pleasantly surprised that the team’s community growth-oriented proposal was so warmly received by the judges. “It was a reflection of the bank's honest desire to live up to its identity as a community bank,” Williams says.

Justin Kidd ’15—currently an analyst for Peoples Bank—put the competition on Oberlin’s radar this year and helped to field a team. “It was a great example of Oberlin alumni seeking to help current students,” Williams says of Kidd’s involvement.

On the whole, Oberlin’s team agreed the event was a positive, professionally managed experience and they hope to return in the future. “I would be very happy to participate again next year,” Tallman says, “we have to bring the trophy back!”

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