Students place second in National Diversity Case Competition

January 24, 2023

A team of four Richmond students took home second place in the National Diversity Case Competition (NDCC) hosted by Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Ifti Alam, Chris Martinez-Ortiz, Mofiyinfoluwa Tunji-Ekundayo, and Andrea Valderrama-Avila spent the past month preparing for the case competition which was held over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. The students competed against 31 teams from universities across the country culminating in a final presentation to executives from the competition’s corporate sponsors.

“The NDCC case centered on environmental justice, which aligns nicely with Endeavor RSB’s theme of 'Societal Impact through Business.' The competition gave students an opportunity to demonstrate what truly embodies the Robins School student: the ability to think critically to develop a creative and yet practical solution to a real problem facing a business,” said Cassandra Marshall, associate professor of finance.

The team pitched ways for 3M to mitigate water pollution using the company’s own products and manufacturing footprint along the East Coast. Throughout the weekend they were also able to participate in workshops and networking exercises with fellow student presenters and corporate sponsors including 3M, EY, FORVIS, Bank of America, and others.

 

Leading up to the competition, we brainstormed, researched, drafted, redrafted, practiced, and spent many nights committed to making the best pitch possible. I highly recommend other students be involved in the NDCC as it was a great learning experience that polished not only my professional and presentation skills but also prepared me for a future work environment.
Andrea Valderrama-Avila

The diverse perspectives and team mentality each member contributed gave the students a competitive advantage. “I would encourage students to take courses outside their major as it helps you think holistically about an issue,” said Ortiz-Martinez. “I took a couple of environmental studies courses and gave my team an advantage over others as this year’s case related to environmental justice issues.”

“I saw myself grow not only as a team member but as an individual,” Tunji-Ekundayo said. “I pushed myself further than I thought I could and surprised myself in the process. No matter the subject of the case, students will have to think outside of the box and move away from their current notions of the world. It truly expands your worldview.” 

Alam shared the sentiment, saying, “As a non-traditional major I learned just as much from my teammates as I contributed.”

Bill Bergman, instructor in marketing, said the competition provides an opportunity to show how well Robins students can compete with students from other major universities. None of the coaches, which included Bergman, Marshall, and Laura Thompson, were surprised when the team was one of seven schools selected to advance to the final round.

Bergman shared, “We have placed in three of the last four years that a Richmond team has entered the 16-year annual competition. Being a finalist and placing second in this national competition is a memorable experience. It is sure to help our Robins team finalists build confidence in their skills as well as appreciate the role diversity can play in strengthening innovative businesses like 3M.”