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College of Business team wins Case for Colorado

June 13, 2014

CSU is now two-for-two in the biennial competition among the state's top business schools: Leeds School of Business at University of Colorado and the Daniels School at the University of Denver.

Winning Case for Colorado team members, from left, Chris Feller, Jason Clark, Elizabeth Kedzior, adviser Bill Shuster, Cameron Delphia and Jake Sweeney.Five undergraduates in the Colorado State University College of Business took home top honors in the Case for Colorado business case analysis competition on April 10. 

“The competition was tough, but the judges were tougher,” said Bill Shuster, management instructor and mentor to the CSU team. “Only one member of the CSU team had any prior experience with case competitions, but they all stepped up with poise and professionalism.”

Faculty members picked the team of senior business majors – Jason Clark, Cameron Delphia, Chris Feller, Elizabeth Kedzior and Jake Sweeney – from among a number of applicants. Only Delphia and Feller knew each other before the competition began; Clark used his business case experience to guide the team’s approach to the daunting exercise.

Energy-based problem

The teams all received the energy-based problem statement at 8 a.m. They spent the next 7 hours sequestered in the Westin Denver Hotel working on their analysis and recommendations and creating the slides for their PowerPoint presentation. Each team then had 15 minutes to present and 10 minutes to answer questions from the panel of three judges, in front of an invited audience of about 350 corporate executives and political leaders.

The judges included former Colorado Senator Hank Brown; Scott Prestidge, energy industry manager at Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.; and Joyce Witte, senior community involvement advisor at Encana.

“The questions were brutal at times,” Shuster said. “But that’s how our students test their thinking and grow. It’s important to test-drive the skills you’ve learned in class; you develop professionalism brick by brick.”

Growth experience

Kedzior said she wanted to compete in the Case for Colorado competition for the experience and tremendous learning opportunity. Her greatest fear is public speaking, so answering tough questions on the spot and in front of a crowd was a huge growth experience for her.

Kedzior really stepped up, according to Shuster, volunteering to answer one of the toughest questions from Brown.

“I was so happy when I took the mic,” Kedzior said. “I was prepared. And I was really proud of myself for researching legal aspects and current events related to oil and gas. The experience helped my confidence, for sure, but I had a lot of help from a really great team.”

The team’s winning presentation earned $25,000 for the College.

“I’m thrilled that our prize will go toward College of Business scholarships,” Kedzior said. “It means more students can have opportunities like I did to learn and grow.”

High praise

Organizers of the event had high praise for all the teams participating in the 2014 Case for Colorado competition.

“The student teams did a great job answering tough questions from a U.S. Senator on the topic of energy development and public policy,” said Rob Swanson, CEO of RAS & Associates, sponsor of the Case for Colorado, along with the Western Energy Alliance and Coloradoans for Responsible Energy Development. “Each team called for Colorado’s stakeholders to unite and serve as a leader and pioneer on energy policy and development.”

Shuster also noticed something else important about the winning Ram team: They stayed behind after the judges and the audience had left to help the staff clean up the team room.

“That says as much to me about the character of CSU students as their performance in the competition,” he said.