S.A.M. Case Study team makes it five straight national titles

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March 27, 2018

SAM Team members

Left to Right: Michael Flicek, Sierra Schmelz, Precious Drew, Rachel Broos and Brennan Lafeber.

When other college teams see the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Society for the Advancement of Management (S.A.M.) Case Study team, they are probably thinking the same thing. 

“We’re playing for second place.” 

The CSB/SJU team won its fifth consecutive title, and for the sixth time in seven years, in the Joseph Bush Undergraduate Division at the 34th annual S.A.M. Case Study Research Competition Saturday, March 24, at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. 

The team consisted of CSB students Sierra Schmelz (Shakopee, Minnesota), Precious Drew (Brooklyn Park, Minnesota) and Rachel Broos (Mendota Heights, Minnesota), and SJU students Brennan Lafeber (St. Paul, Minnesota) and Michael Flicek (San Ramon, California). 

All five are seniors and global business leadership majors. Schmelz was the only holdover from the 2017 team.

 This year’s case study was on Ryder Logistics, with its primary issues being job recruitment and safety. Representatives from Ryder helped judge the competition. 

Steve Schwarz, visiting assistant professor of global business leadership at CSB and SJU and the faculty adviser to the group, said the team recommended three steps: 

  • A recruiting and training program for high school students to bring in younger drivers.
  • An app to consolidate many different functions since most drivers use eight different apps. The consolidated app would help improve the driver experience and safety concerns.
  • The final recommendation was to invest in the future and partner with Honda to rollout driverless trucks and increase options for same day delivery.

 The case study was mailed to Schwarz in January. He can’t give direct advice to the team, and the first time he saw the finished presentation was in Arlington. 

“The students excelled in their ability to apply their liberal arts education, research the company, critically analyze the case information, design strategic recommendations and deliver a professional presentation,” Schwarz said. 

In addition to the team case study, Drew placed second and SJU senior Ramon Angeles (Brooklyn Park, Minnesota) third in an extemporaneous speaking competition at the conference. The contest, new to S.A.M. this year, allowed the students to hone their analytical and presentation skills under time pressure. 

Students selected three envelopes with various business dilemmas inside. They had two minutes to decide which of the three dilemmas they would like to talk about, and then had 30 minutes to prepare a 5- to 7-minute presentation on their topic to a panel of judges. 

Drew’s topic was on trade issues between Venezuela and Cuba. Angeles’ topic was on how U.S. airlines should respond after a dog in an overhead compartment died on a recent United Airlines flight. 

Judges evaluated the students on the quality of their solution and the student’s presentation skills. 

Schwarz thanked the Experience and Professional Development Office at CSB and SJU “as travel to this case competition is only possible due to Undergraduate Research Funding and support from the Global Business Leadership department.” Angeles received funding through the Saint John’s Senate and the Global Business Leadership Department. 

The students will be presenting their case study on Scholarship and Creativity Day April 26.