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UHV recognizes winners in fall MBA Conference competitions

Dec. 15, 2012 at 6:15 a.m.

The winning strategic simulation team members who analyzed Digby were Rohan Thomas, left, Hamidah Ali, Kareece Atkinson, Dany Thayil and Bijoo Abraham.

SUGAR LAND - The cases presented by University of Houston-Victoria graduate students during the fall Master of Business Administration conference were so compelling that judges had difficulties picking the winners.

In fact, the strategic MBA simulation competition ended in a tie. Eighteen UHV students on four different teams capped their graduate studies by taking the top prizes at the conference.

"The students did an exceptional job of analyzing the background information and putting together a good action plan," said Jeff Blodgett, associate dean of the UHV School of Business Administration.

Since 2003, the conference has been the culmination of the UHV School of Business Administration's MBA program. Held at UH Sugar Land, where UHV offers many of the programs, the event also featured a keynote address by Ravi Kathuria, president of Cohegic Corp.

One-hundred-thirteen students from the MBA capstone course "Seminar in Strategic Management" competed in the conference.

The students, most of whom were fall MBA graduates, were divided into 25 teams vying for first place in three competitions: global simulation, strategic simulation and strategic case studies.

Students came from as far away as Rhode Island, Orlando and San Diego to compete. One student, who is an American expatriate in Russia, also attended, Blodgett said.

"For many of the students from outside of Texas, it's the first time they've met their professors and case competition teammates," he said. "Even with the geographical divide, I could tell the teams had a lot of camaraderie."

The case competition featured student teams applying what they learned in the program to real-world business situations.

Strategic case winners were Tram Cao and Maureen Iglesias, both of Sugar Land; and Kymberli Correll and Benny Nguyen, both of Houston.

Correll said her team analyzed Facebook. The key to her team's success was the members carved out time to meet.

"We met four or five times a week the past few weeks," she said. "We learned what everyone's strengths and weaknesses were. So, when the questions came up, we already knew who was going to answer," she said. "The other advantage of working on this together is we had a very fluid presentation. It wasn't fragmented with individuals just presenting their own section."

Correll said she didn't know any of her teammates before they started preparing for the competition.

"Now, we will be keeping in touch for years to come," she said.

The global simulation competition featured students attempting to turn struggling businesses into profitable ventures. The winners were Mercedes Dotson and John Kutesakwe, both of Houston; Nathaniel Schiff, of Bastrop; and Jessica Zabala, of Katy.

The two winning strategic simulation teams analyzed fictional businesses.

Adrian Flores, of Cypress; Doug Frye and Jamone Moore, both of Houston; Anna Patino, of Katy; and James Peltier, of Richmond, presented a plan for Chester. Bijoo Abraham and Rohan Thomas, both of Sugar Land; Hamidah Ali, of Stafford; Kareece Atkinson, of Houston; and Dany Thayil, of Missouri City, analyzed Digby.

Winning team members received certificates, and their names will appear on a plaque in the School of Business Administration's main office in Victoria. Members of winning teams will be invited to serve as panelists at future case competitions.

Kathuria's speech was part of the Willis Group Distinguished Speaker Series. Kathuria runs a management consulting, executive and sales coaching firm. Since 2002, Cohegic Corp. has helped companies enhance their business clarity and strategic cohesion.

As part of his method for helping companies, Kathuria has written the business book "How Cohesive is your Company?" The book is about how a CEO struggles to transfer a business and in the process grapples with his personal transformation. The message of the book is top-notch business performance is not possible until business leaders cohesively align mission, vision, goals, strategy, execution and culture.

Kathuria spoke about the importance of finding a career that aligns with students' interests and values, Blodgett said.

"He talked a lot about personal values and career paths," Blodgett said. "His book is about companies aligning their values with what they want to do. He adapted that to the individual level during his address to the students."

The luncheon was co-sponsored by HCSS - Innovative Software for the Construction Industry, Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

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