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MA-HRIR Students Hone HR Skills through Midwest Competition

February 26, 2013

MA-HRIR students were given a chance to practice what they have been learning in the classroom.

Over winter break, four students from the MA-HRIR program participated in the Ohio State Case Competition where Human Resources graduate students from across the Midwest consulted with PepsiCo about a real-life HR problem and were asked to find a solution.

"Case competitions give students a chance to look at a live problem being faced by a company and come up with their own solution," said MA-HRIR Program Director Stacy Doepner-Hove, the team coach.

The competition provided real-world experience for students to practice what they've been learning in the classroom, while also building teamwork and collaboration.

"I chose to compete to put myself in a new, challenging, high-stress situation," said first year MA-HRIR student Liz Pagel. "I also wanted to learn from my teammates' experiences as well as test out my HR critical-thinking abilities."

In this year's case competition, students were challenged to fill 750-1,500 positions for sales representatives and operations analysts in both Pepsi Bottling and Frito Lay businesses. The students then had to structure PepsiCo's U.S. recruiting strategy to accommodate the hiring capacity.

The teams researched the problem, found a solution, and created a presentation. The following day, the teams delivered their presentations to a panel of judges who asked the contestants specific questions about their solution. Each team was given 20 minutes to make its presentation and answer questions from the judges.

"The challenges were finding the relevant information to make sound decisions, understanding how PepsiCo works as a company, what solutions could be implemented into its business and culture, and making sure we could finish the presentation on time," first-year MA-HRIR student Megan Gondorchin said.

Doepner-Hove prepared the students for the competition by giving them sample cases for practice and having judges critique their solutions. Though the coaches were not allowed to contact the students during the workday, Doepner-Hove said one of her jobs at the competition was to support the students.

"We were given the chance to meet with them [the students] for about a half hour on Friday night and that was a boost for the students," she said.

In the end, the students placed second out of five teams, and hope to improve next year.

"Our team was not able to finish the entire presentation in the time given, so it was a learning experience for us on how to handle the judge's questions and to properly finish. It's an opportunity for next year," Gondorchin said.

Pictured above (from left to right): Liz Pagel, Megan Gondorchin, Meghann McKee Albertson, and Julia Schulte.

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