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Hankamer MBA Student Wins Third Place at Marketing Case Competition

April 7, 2008

By Kate Gronewald

Hankamer School of Business MBA student Rakesh Arora won third place with his team at the Neeley Sales & Marketing Strategy Competition, held March 29 at TCU's Neeley School of Business in Fort Worth.

A total of 55 students participated, representing 17 schools across the U.S. Sony Electronics sponsored the competition, which focused on the company's The Reader Digital Book product. Six Sony executives presented the case and served as judges, including Jay Vandenbree, President of Sony Consumer Sales, and Steve Haber, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Sony's Digital Imaging and Audio Division.

Randomly assigned teams of five students each were given six hours to create and present a marketing strategy for Sony's product. Arora competed with teammates Meredith Balderas and Nilesh Gantam, both students at TCU's Neeley School of Business; Jeremy Beasley, from the Jones Graduate School of Management, Rice; and Cynthia Geng, a student at Georgia Tech.

While creating their strategy, the team focused on customer needs and the "4 P's" of marketing: product, price, place and promotion. Their use of basic marketing tools and analytical thinking paid off. As the third place winners, each received a Sony E-book and split the $2,000 prize.

Arora learned about the Neeley competition opportunity via e-mail from a faculty member and thought participating would be a good learning experience. He was right.

"The competition was a lesson in teamwork," Arora said. "I learned from my teammates' different methodologies, different personalities, and different ways of approaching brainstorming."

Arora likened the pressure of the competition experience to that of a new job.

"As soon as they hire you, you have to deliver," Arora said.

Bill Cron, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at the Neeley School of Business, would agree. The competition is a "real business-world experience," Cron said in a TCU press release.

"We were excited to host this case competition with Sony, because it allows MBA students to apply what they have learned in class, along with their own skills and experience, to a real sales product, and get to know and work alongside of other MBA students from different schools," Cron said.

The competition provides recognition, networking with high-level business managers, and connection with team members, Arora said.

Each of these benefits participating students and their respective business schools. However, they aren't the only ones who profit. Sony uses the competition as a learning tool for the corporation as well.

"This was our first case competition with TCU, and it was an outstanding success in terms of the talent we saw, the recommendations we received, the interest exhibited in Sony careers and the organization of the event by TCU," said Dennis McTighe, Senior Vice President, Western Zone, for Sony Electronics. "We look forward to doing it again next year."

Arora, who will graduate in May, said he would've participated in more case competitions throughout his education had he known the immense amount of learning they provide.

"In two days, I learned almost as much as I did in my semester of marketing," said Arora.

For marketing-minded students who want to take advantage of similar experiences, start honing your skills for next spring's competition.

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