Bauer Student Teams Top Rice MBA Marketing Case Competition

Published on February 24, 2012

UH Bauer Teams Edge Out Rice, UT and TSU
In Cameron-Sponsored Marketing Competition

A team of MBA students from Bauer College recently took first place in the 2012 Rice MBA Marketing Case Competition. The winners (from left) were Raj Baskaran, Kim Phan, Iryna Mckenzie and Trey Bhutta. The team members — who brought expertise in engineering, marketing, accounting and finance, respectively — used an interdisciplinary approach to score a victory. Another team from Bauer took second place.

Time moves at warp speed when you are on deadline. Just ask the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business team that won the 2012 Rice MBA Marketing Case Competition.

It was 8 p.m. on a Friday night when the eight teams from around the state got their marching orders. They had 12 hours to devise a plan for a “compelling real marketing case from Cameron,” the Houston-based corporation that sponsored the Rice University event.

Trey Bhutta, a member of Bauer’s winning team, says his group expected to wrap it up by 3 a.m. and call it a night. As it turned out, they finished at 7:30 a.m.  — a mere 90 minutes before presentations began. “Some of the members presented without any sleep,” said Bhutta, who managed to squeeze in a shower and a little shuteye, but only because he lives near the Rice campus.

But in the end, the adrenaline rush paid off.

Bhutta and fellow MBA students Kim Phan, Iryna McKenzie, and Raj Baskaran beat out seven teams from Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University to take home the $1,200 prize. Another team of Bauer students  — Irene Hsu, Sarah Jachimiec, Abel Noah and Wes Swift — took second place at the Feb. 10-11 event.

The Bauer teams were thrilled to get the experience and face time with Cameron senior executives, who served as judges.  “It was as close as it gets to real-life experience,” McKenzie said.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our teams,” Bauer Dean Latha Ramchand said. “Bauer MBA students are obviously poised to take on real world challenges and impress corporate leaders. We are also pleased that our students had the opportunity to present to Cameron, a company we have a strong relationship with as President, Chairman and CEO Jack Moore is a Bauer alum and member of the college’s Dean’s Executive Board.”

While you might expect the winners of a marketing case competition to be experts in the field, that wasn’t entirely the case here. “Kim is the only one with any marketing experience,” Bhutta says. “My background is in finance.” McKenzie is studying accounting, while Baskaran works in the engineering profession.

“I believe our strength was in the diversity of the team members,” McKenzie says. “The fact that all four of us came from different backgrounds allowed us to provide a 360-degree, whole-picture analysis.”

“Feedback from the judges,” Baskaran said, “was that the solutions we presented were practical and the implementation process was thought through.”

“We tried hard to understand the company’s core values and what they were trying to accomplish,” Bhutta added, “and then we make sure that our solutions were customized to Cameron’s needs.”

“In general, it was a great way to apply our knowledge to a case about a real problem,” Baskaran said. “Only having a limited amount of time allowed us to see how we perform under pressure and with tight deadlines and limited sleep.”

Corporate sponsor Cameron, headquartered in Houston, is a leading provider of flow equipment products, systems and services to worldwide oil, gas and process industries.

By Wendell Brock