Mendoza School of Business

MBA team wins Kellogg Biotech case competition

Published: February 11, 2008 / Author: Carol Newswriting

The team of Chris Wittman, Anita Allen, Heather Burns, Joel Rambaldini and Pete Travnicek, all 2009 MBA candidates at the Mendoza College of Business, won the Kellogg Biotechnology Case Competition held at Northwestern University on Jan. 19, 2008. 

The students competed against teams from Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Texas at Austin. The judges were comprised of select faculty from the University of Chicago, Northwestern, as well as executives from Genzyme.

“This outstanding accomplishment speaks for the quality and dedication of the members of the team and, indeed, the student body and program as a whole,” said Edward J. Conlon, Mendoza’s associate dean of graduate programs.

The Kellogg Biotech Case Competition is an annual event centered on issues affecting biotechnology. This year, the case required the participants to act as consultants to a company seeking to bring a treatment for Pompe disease to market in the fastest way possible. The case was based on a real-life scenario from several years ago involving a CEO whose children were afflicted with the disease.

The team met weeks in advance of actually receiving the case in order to start preparing for the competition. They received the case a week ahead of the event.

“When we got the long-awaited case, we went straight to work, meeting every day for hours,” said Heather Burns, who estimated that the team put in about 30 hours of preparation in the week leading up to the competition. “We spent the first few days dissecting the case and brainstorming ideas for solutions.”

The team’s solution combined financial analysis, shareholder interest and ethical implications. “When it came to the question portion of the competition, we got grilled,” said Burns. “The judges attempted to poke holes in our solution at every level, but we all stood our ground and each confidently explained our thought processes.”

Mendoza MBA teams have had other recent wins in case competitions, including the HABLA Case Competition hosted by the Johnson School at Cornell University in November. Several members of the MBA program, including 2009 candidates Margot Woolley and Keith Flatley, as well as Mary Goss, senior director of the MBA Program, recently launched an initiative to encourage students to participate in these competitions.

Goss said the competitions give students great exposure to recruiters, who serve as judges, as well as help develop the skills to solve real-world issues under great time-pressure. “The competitions give students a great boost of confidence to realize that what they are learning in the classroom is applicable to real life.”

Contact: Edward Conlon, associate dean, Mendoza College of Business, (574) 631-7685 or



Topics: Undergrad