Student Consulting Group Earns First-Place in Region

Left to right, John McLaughlin, John Brindisi, Keyur Shah, and Matthew Frank accepting their awards at the "Case for a Cause" competition (Photo courtesy of John McLaughlin)
Left to right, John McLaughlin, John Brindisi, Keyur Shah, and Matthew Frank accepting their awards at the “Case for a Cause” competition (Photo courtesy of John McLaughlin)

A team of students from the UConn Consulting Group were the first-place champions in a regional “Case for a Cause” competition, proving their business-solution prowess against participants from other top universities.

The four-student undergraduate team included: John McLaughlin, a senior accounting major; Keyur Shah, a junior majoring in computer science & engineering; John Brindisi, a junior majoring in management and engineering for manufacturing; and Matt Frank, a sophomore majoring in accounting.

The team members are all participants of the UConn Consulting Group (UCG), a student-run organization that performs real strategy projects for large corporate clients under the advisement of UConn alumni. This semester, the group dedicated a small team of students specifically to competing in case competitions, in an effort to promote the group’s brand and prove that UConn students perform well at the most competitive level.

“Since this was the first semester we tried this, it was extremely gratifying to take home a win,” said McLaughlin, who is managing director of the consulting group. “We know that experience gained in UCG was instrumental in preparing us to meet the challenge of understanding, analyzing and presenting complicated, multi-driver business problems and strategic solutions.”

The UConn team defeated 24 other participant teams, including those from Harvard, Dartmouth, MIT, Amherst, Tufts, Wesleyan, Connecticut College, Boston University, Boston College and more.

The case involved analyzing extensive data on a manufacturer of sugar glaze for donuts that was observing a significant decline in revenue. The first-round task involved creating a 20-slide presentation deck identifying the cause of the revenue decline and offering three strategic options for correcting it. After being named as a top four finalist, the team was tasked with selecting one of the strategies and presenting a detailed plan for implementation.

The competition stretched over two months, requiring the team to commit to more than 400 hours for analysis, constructing a presentation and preparation. The judges were impressed by the team’s thoroughness and professionalism.

The competition, which concluded on March 29, was sponsored by Roland Berger, a global strategy consulting firm who donates all entry fees from the competition to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Over three years the competition has generated more than $10,000 for the charity.

UConn fielded a successful team in this competition in 2017, and while that team made it to the final round, it did not win top prize.