Smeal case team takes third place in international competition

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Four Penn State Smeal College of Business students recently returned from the Marshall International Case Competition at the University of Southern California with a third-place trophy — the highest position of all participating American universities.

The Smeal team, led by case team director Andy Gustafson, assistant professor of business administration, included marketing major Devin Weakland, actuarial science and economics major Benjamin Pugh, accounting and finance major Nicholas Fakelmann, and supply chain and information systems major Samantha Jarmul.

“Nick, Devin, Ben and Samantha were not only great competitors, but also great ambassadors for Penn State.”

Thirty schools attended the competition. Each was allowed 24 hours to prepare a presentation in response to a case revolving around Owens & Minor Inc. — a supply chain solutions provider of medical and surgical supplies.

“In essence, the students were charged with the following question: How do we extract the greatest value from our recent European acquisition?” said Gustafson. “The students had to create a business strategy, implementation plan and financial return analysis in less than 24 hours.”

While all the business skills that contribute to developing this presentation make up about 50 percent of the judging, according to Gustafson, public speaking and presentation skills also count for much of a team’s final score.

Pugh said one of the reasons their team stood out was their clear presentation of ideas: “In any presentation, what’s really important is to make things easy to understand. It also helps if you can make a personal connection with the judges.”

Also important is their ability to think on their feet in the question and answer session with the judging panel — which included Owens & Minor CEO Craig Smith.

“Nick, Devin, Ben and Samantha were not only great competitors, but also great ambassadors for Penn State,” said Gustafson.

Penn State took third place behind the University of British Columbia, which took top honors, and the Singapore Management University, which came in second.

Last Updated September 10, 2013