MBA Students Participate in PepsiCo MBA Invitational Case Competition

 On September 18, first-year MBA students from TCU and other top business schools competed in the first-ever PepsiCo MBA Invitational Case Competition. Forty MBAs from across the country were invited to participate, and teams were composed of students from different programs. The task was to address a business issue initiated by Mr. Al Carey, CEO of Pepsi Americas.

“Our Pepsi and Frito-Lay team members are asking first-year MBAs for perspectives and insights to help us address a current business situation,” says Mr. Carey in a personal video message to invitees. “While doing so, marketing and finance teams are looking at the top talent for potential internships for the summer of 2016.”

The case students examined was written to engage students at all experience levels, explains Ed Riefenstahl, director of experiential learning. Riefenstahl speculates the competition's outcome will yield consumer-based insights into a “current beverage and food innovation Pepsi will bring to a niche market.” 

The panel of competition judges was comprised of a combination of senior operational marketing, operational finance and HR/talent acquisition personnel from Pepsi and Frito-Lay, as well as a vice chairman from KPMG.

The competition challenged students to collaborate with MBA students who they met for the first time that day. “It’s an opportunity for them to test themselves, working with other students from top-tier schools,” says Riefenstahl.

“This is experience will be incredibly valuable to you,” says Carey in his video message to participants. “In the world of business and in many other organizations, you’re often asked to work on a project with teams you’ve never met before. A business case like this helps you learn how to collaborate with a newly formed team on a short-fused deadline. This will also be a big help to us.”

In addition to the exposure participating students received with the potential to make a favorable impression on high-level Pepsi executives, there was also $15,000 in cash up for grabs for the winning teams.

Though the prize money goes to the students, the competition was really a win-win for all involved. For students, it provided an invaluable opportunity for students to gain feedback from judges and interact with senior executives and personnel, including Tom Greco, CEO of Frito-Lay. For Pepsi and Frito-Lay, the competition provided new insights into the business situation in question and validation of existing perspectives.

“We’ve got some great ideas that have come out of it,” Greco says. “I’m very confident that some of the ideas that came out of this competition are actually going to get implemented out there in the marketplace.”

For TCU, the competition allowed the school to “tighten our relationship with PepsiCo and Frito-Lay,” Riefenstahl says. By hosting the competition, TCU had the opportunity to showcase the quality of its MBA program and its MBA students, as well as foster networking with MBAs from other top schools. 

“I enjoyed working with people from other schools and liked the schedule that was outlined for us for the weekend,” says Texas A&M student Alex Bardeguez, MBA candidate class of 2017. “This was my very first competition, and I am hoping that it won't be my last.” 

Congratulations to the winning teams, whose members represented nine out of the 14 participating MBA programs. Below are the names and schools of the winners. Thanks to all who took part!

Third place ($3,000 prize)
Lauren Creed, SMU
Taneisha Springfield-Jones, University of Illinois
Elliott Marks, Rice University
Kyle Tilley, TCU

Second place ($5,000 prize)
Morgan Ferguson, TCU
Wesley Rondinelli, Texas A&M
Nishant Samuel, Duke University
Kyle Ambrose, University of Texas at Dallas

First place ($7,000 prize)
Chelsea Thompson, SMU
Casey Spoden, University of Iowa
Vincent Lyons, University of Illinois
Griffin Bell, Vanderbilt University 

Interested in getting a TCU MBA? Request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program or apply now.

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