Bold Business for the Real World: The Eller College of Management’s Business Case Competition

Dec. 22, 2011

Your Power Point presentation is ready. You’ve rehearsed your part and know it by heart, but you double-check your numbers just in case. Then you and your teammates button your jackets and adjust your ties. It’s time.

Every semester, juniors from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management vie to win the Business Case Competition. It’s a rite of passage for business majors, and even though they prepare for it all semester by learning oral persuasion, it’s not like anything they’ve ever done before. They have to put their communication skills and budding business acumen to the test in front of a panel of corporate executives and present a solution to a real business problem.

 “Communication is critical in business,” says Eller College Instructor Jim McLean. “Written or oral, we believe our students have to have these skills. When we talk to employers, that’s what they’re looking for. ”

The students who compete say they’re not in it for the prizes – there aren’t any. They’re in it for the bragging rights. “I got into business at the University of Arizona because it’s a competitive environment, and I definitely want to win,” says Isaac Tavares, one of McLean’s students.

“You get up there, your face gets hot, you start to panic and they’re asking questions like crazy,” says Karen Dougherty, another student of McLean’s who competed on “Team F-3” along with Tavares and fellow classmates Ryan Fitzpatrick, Melissa Stockdale and Winona Fenimore. “But we’re going to have to do this in the business world. By the time we walk into a company, we’ll already know how to make a successful presentation.”

Fenimore agrees.  “When I’m in the business world, I’m going to remember this because it’s my first big presentation and I’m telling a company to spend $600 million dollars on my idea!”

The Business Case Competition is one reason why the Eller College of Management is consistently rated among the top ten business schools in the nation. “We prepare our students for the real world of business,” says McLean.

“The Eller College teaches you to be bold,” agrees Fitzpatrick. “It teaches you to take command of every situation and see it as an opportunity.”

Learn more about the Eller College of Management at

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