With a nudge from the Tepper School of Business community, three students from the Undergraduate Business Administration program crafted a strategic plan around a business familiar to Carnegie Mellon – Uber Technologies, Inc. – and as a result finished in third place in the National Black MBA Association’s inaugural Undergraduate Case Competition.
The team of Tepper School students, including Tiffany Monthe-Siewe, BS ’16, Kamal Abdul-Razaq, BS ’16, and Adoalisa Anammah, BS ’16, were given approximately one month to study and analyze Uber’s business strategy. The goal was to propose potential solutions for the company to address current issues related to marketing, pricing and legal matters.
While balancing academic coursework, jobs and other activities, the students spent the month prior to the late-September competition exchanging ideas and insights. They conducted the necessary research and analysis to develop a clear and concise proposal for the company, which has partnered with CMU on driverless-car technology. The outcome of the group’s work was a multi-faceted strategy that was segmented into three parts: marketing, pricing and legal.
"It was a lot to juggle within the timeframe, but I believe that the support we received from the Tepper community enhanced our performance," said Monthe-Siewe. "Tepper MBA candidates Samantha Grant, MBA ’16, Ohemaah Ntiamoa, MBA ’16, and Adrian West, MBA ’16, went out of their way when to provide us with helpful tips and pointers, and we certainly appreciated it."
The competition brought together 13 student teams who were first split into preliminary rounds of three or four teams each. In the first round, the Tepper School students faced-off against Bethune-Cookman University and Washington University of St. Louis, presenting before executive judges representing Publix and NBTY.
After a successful preliminary round, the team was invited to join Florida A&M University, Indiana University and Purdue University to present their strategy to a panel of five judges that included executives from Alcoa, FDIC and Uber.
In the end, the Tepper students defeated Florida A&M for the third-place ranking and took home a prize of $5,000, as well as several valuable business lessons.
“I think students should look for opportunities like this because it gives us a chance to apply the materials we have learned in our classes to real life. The Uber Case required us to proffer a convincing business case and an effective, technological solution to a commuter needs – one that was more efficient and profitable for the company, while still within legal and regulatory limits,” explained Abdul-Razaq.
“In doing this, we are able to validate what we have learned and appreciate what we are taught at the Tepper School.”
The National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Undergraduate Case Competition was sponsored by Alcoa Foundation. Indiana University took home the first-place award of $15,000, and Purdue University was second, earning $10,000.
“Case competitions like these give our students a chance to showcase the breadth and depth of what they learn at the Tepper School, and teaches them effective teamwork and leadership skills,” explained Colleen McMullen, executive director for Diversity Initiatives and staff advisor for the Tepper School team. “I was so pleased with the outcome of the team’s case for Uber.”