MBA students win Propeller’s Case Hack Day

On Friday, May 1, MBA students Jason Bruderlin, Jesse Harding and Kaitlyn Rich won Propeller’s Case Hack Day. For the past two years, management consulting firm, Propeller Consulting has hosted a Case Hack Day — one in their San Francisco office and one here in Portland. At this event, graduate students from around the state work in teams to create an innovative solution to a business case.

PSU MBA students at Propeller's Case Hack Day 2019
(From left): Jason Brudelin (MBA), Tynan Gable (MBA – Willamette University), Kaitlyn Rich (MBA) and Jesse Harding (MBA) at Propeller’s Case Hack Day.

Cross-university collaboration

This year, 9 of the 18 students who participated were from Portland State University. Other participating schools included University of Oregon and Willamette University. Bruderlin, Harding and Rich worked with Tynan Gable, an MBA student from Willamette University. Rich described the event as a valuable chance to learn from other schools:

“It was a great opportunity to connect with MBA students from other programs, it helped me to see how other MBA programs are teaching problem solving and what pieces I could bring back to incorporate into my own studies. Also, everyone there was so smart and friendly. That gave me a lot of pride in our region’s business community.”

How the MBA curriculum prepares students

The School of Business leverages business cases and case studies across the graduate curriculum. Whether they be accounting cases in Managerial Accounting or marketing- focused cases in Pioneering Innovation, analyzing business cases equips our students with the skills necessary to critically evaluate a business or project and provide viable solutions.

Rainbow Farms, an upscale grocer

The case involved providing business solutions for Rainbow Farms, a fictitious upscale grocer facing challenges in adapting to trends in the grocery industry. These trends include the rise of meal kit services, superior technology and personalized shopping experiences.

Brian K. McCarthy, marketing and managerial communication instructor was in attendance at the event. He shared, “I was extremely impressed with the way the students worked with their teams to develop a solution to the challenging case study. The presentations to the panel of Propeller judges were clear, informative, and professionally presented.”

The solution

The team had four hours to become familiar with the problems in the case and develop a solution to present. When asked about how the team navigated this challenge, Harding said,

“I think the biggest challenges were not from the case itself. We had a small amount of time with a group that largely did not know one another. Creating an efficient and dynamic team under those circumstances is difficult and unlikely. I feel that we benefited greatly from the collective assertiveness and mutual respect we established from the very start. Having experienced and sharp-minded teammates made all the difference. I was very impressed with everyone in our group.”

Consulting as a future career path

The Portland MBA equips students with the necessary skills to pursue a career in consulting. We’ve witnessed many of our alums pursuing careers in management consulting after graduation. Rich and Harding are both interested in consulting as a career path – we’re excited to see where this may take them in the future!

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