Winners of Business Case Competition Have Chance to Help Azerbaijan Become the Next Dubai
A team of five students from the Energy Association at the C. T. Bauer College of Business was awarded first place for their efforts in aiding top executives from Azerbaijan’s oil and gas industry during a recent energy case competition.
The winning team included MBA students Jennifer Schwegman, McLean McGregor, UH law graduate student Shanisha Smith, finance senior Nirav Sheth and supply chain management junior Mit Trivedi. The judging panel of representatives from local industry giants BP, Shell, ExxonMobil and Petrobras selected the winning team because of their ability to offer tangible solutions to the economic situation in Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijan’s current situation has to do with an unstable relationship between the increase in exploitation of natural resources and a decline in their manufacturing sector,” said supply chain senior Mark Diaz, who serves as president of the student organization.
The Spring 2014 Energy Case Competition, sponsored by the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), assigned student teams the task of analyzing their company’s current oil and gas methods to better identify solutions to promote continued growth within a nation in the middle of an economic crisis, also commonly referred to as “Dutch Disease.”
Diaz explained that as Azerbaijan continues to dig up the country and the surrounding Caspian Sea looking for new energy sites, “it results in the nation’s other exports becoming more expensive for other countries to buy, which makes the manufacturing sector less competitive. Currently, 97 percent of Azerbaijan’s economy is dedicated to oil and natural gas.”
“These students not only looked at implementing innovative methods from the U.S. oil and gas industry, but they investigated several taboo topics like wars and conflicts over the Caspian Sea. A lot of geopolitical research went into their presentation,” said supply chain management senior Sarah Murphy, vice president of the Energy Association. “They really made it clear on what actions Azerbaijan needs to take now because if they continue to fail to diversify, their economy will tank if oil prices drop.”
The winning team was awarded $1,000 for their work and is also being considered for an internship in Azerbaijan, located between western Asia and eastern Europe. This opportunity would allow the students to put their ideas into action, with the potential to turn the country’s economic future around.
“Their energy leaders came to the Azerbaijan Center in Houston because it was the choice that made the most sense for them in their time of need,” Murphy said. “They realize they need to build relations with U.S. oil and gas companies so that they can invest and increase the country’s gross domestic product. Houston is the leader in energy, and the diversity of students at Bauer shows our ability to provide workable solutions that will now have an international impact.”
By Danielle Ponder