Seniors shine at international business competition

For three Northeastern students, developing “senioritis” this semester meant welcoming added responsibility and hours of hard work after being selected by professors to join a prestigious D’Amore-McKim School of Business student group.

Jennie Vildzius, Jacobson Truex, and Dennis He, all DMSB’16, are members of Huntington Management Consulting, an undergraduate organization that gives students experiential learning opportunities in management consulting and strategy through intercollegiate competition and volunteer work for local firms and nonprofit organizations. The trio, hand-picked by professors, officially joined the team in January and have worked under the tutelage of Raymond Kinnunen, associate professor of international business and strategy, whom students call “Coach K.”

“It’s like a rollercoaster,” said He, describing the experience. “After graduation I want to do consulting, and working on this team is a great opportunity to get some hands-on experience.”

Last week the trio, along with David Burdette, DMSB’17, placed third in the 27th Scotiabank International Case Competition at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School. The student-run competition included participating colleges and universities from Canada, Mexico, China, Hungary, and the Netherlands.

“It is basically strategy consulting in the form of a case competition,” Vildzius explained. “It’s a real company with a real problem and we provide real solutions, but it is put in the setting of a condensed competition. It’s kind of like a sprint.”

Participants find out about the case when they arrive at the competition. This year, the teams were tasked with helping the Stratford Festival, an internationally renowned Shakespearean festival, diversify its audience.

When students research a financial case in class, Vildzius said the goal is to examine budgetary line items and determine that if a company is spending a lot in one area, where it can spend less in others. But with these competitions, the students must analyze the company’s route problem and find ways to impact change on a greater scale.

“This really takes classroom and co-op learning to the next level,” Vildzius said. “By being thrown into the deep end of having to consult, you have to consider every aspect of a business.”

To practice for a competition in which they don’t yet know the specific case, the Northeastern students spent most of their weekends this semester replicating the fast-paced competition environment and working on cases from previous competitions.

“The way Coach K always frames it is ‘expert intuition,’” Truex said. “You try to learn as much as you can about everything you can possibly consider. So it is a lot of practice and drawing tidbits of information from a variety of subjects.”