Winning Iowa MBA student team
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Emily Archer

Casey Spoden, a full-time Iowa MBA student, and her teammates won the PepsiCo Invitational MBA Business Competition, gaining both experience and an extra $7,000.

“I had never participated in a case competition before, so I was excited to learn about the process and get practice at solving problems in a finite amount of time,” said Spoden.

During the weekend of September 18-19, MBA students from 13 universities participated in a case competition for cash prizes and possible job opportunities within PepsiCo. 

“We all wanted to win, but we wanted to see our own classmates do well also.”

This was the first year for the annual competition, made possible by a partnership between Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business and PepsiCo.

Students were randomly assigned two teammates, and each team had to do their own case study and present it to the judges. Spoden attributed her team’s success to the different backgrounds, varied talents and experiences between the three of them.

“My team was very collaborative from the start – we analyzed our case separately and came together with lots of ideas and quickly discussed the pros and cons to pick the best ones,” she said.

Spoden had also competed against other Tippie students, but she said the mixed teams created a supportive atmosphere.

“We all wanted to win, but we wanted to see our own classmates do well also.”

For MBA students like Spoden, case competitions are important because they give real life examples of what it would be like working in a business such as PepsiCo.

“There is no substitute for wrestling with real business problems, developing effective solutions and presenting to a team of successful executives,” said Bill Wempe, executive director of graduate programs at the Neeley School. “It also gives PepsiCo and Frito-Lay an early look at top talent from some of the country’s highest-ranked MBA programs.”

Spoden has an interest in pursuing a career in consulting after receiving her MBA and she hopes to get a job at PepsiCo.

“I definitely have a better idea of how the case competition process works and what it’s like to work on a team with a specific deadline,” said Spoden. “This will be helpful and applicable to any job or internship I may be offered!”