Mendoza School of Business

Notre Dame MBA announces winners of Microsoft virtual case competition

Published: November 30, 2011 / Author: Carol Elliott

heart of John Leahey’s marketing plan to help a software giant strengthen
community engagement was a simple axiom: Make it easy for people to help each
other out.

proposal for a Microsoft give-back plan that allows consumers to donate toward
a community service organization won the grand-prize in the Notre Dame MBA Mini
Deep-Dive Challenge, a virtual case competition sponsored by the University of
Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. As part of the award, the Chicago
resident will receive a $25,000 fellowship toward tuition upon successfully
matriculating into the Notre Dame MBA program.

Notre Dame MBA Deep Dive Challenge, launched Oct. 3, saw more than 925 people
registering for the online competition, which was open to the public.

really liked the idea of the Deep-Dive Challenge, because it gave me a
mini-snapshot of what MBA school might be like,” said Leahey, who holds a BA
from Hope College in political science and business administration and a
master’s degree from Northwestern University in public policy and
administration. Leahey is currently applying to the Notre Dame MBA program.
“The brief itself was a cool idea as well. It asked a good question.”

by Microsoft, the case asked participants to create a one-page proposal that
outlines a marketing plan designed to increase the engagement between Microsoft
stores and their local communities. The plan had to have a focus on education
and technology, and the software company must be able to implement it over the
next year.

took place in two phases, with a Mendoza College of Business team of faculty
and staff selecting the top 10 entries, which were forwarded to Microsoft
executives, who picked the three winners.

grand-prize entry, “Community by Microsoft Store,” proposed a free membership
program offered to new and existing customers of Microsoft Store to benefit
local community organizations while strengthening the Microsoft Store’s brand
awareness nationwide. When a member makes a qualified purchase at a local
store, Microsoft Store donates a Microsoft software product to the member’s
selected partner organization in the local community. 

“The first-place entry was a very thoughtful
program with intriguing incentives for the store and members,” said Kristin Bockius, Microsoft U.S. Education
Marketing Manager. “We will definitely consider using the idea. In
fact, Microsoft has a similar program currently in operation, but John’s plan
really captured the audience, metrics and marketing benefits we were seeking.
It was the most thoughtful and relevant response we saw.”

The case
represents a real-life business opportunity for the Microsoft Store, which to
date has given approximately $14 million in in-kind donations to local
organizations committed to education and technology. The company also plans to
expand its retail presence significantly in the next two to three years. The
first Microsoft Store opened in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2009, followed by 13 more
stores by 2011.

is a huge part of Microsoft’s mission,” said Bockius. “It’s very important to
us to connect to the communities we serve in new ways that can have real
impact, particularly in the areas vital to social and educational growth.”

Second-place was awarded to Sarah Barkow of Minnetonka, Minn., for
her proposal for a Microsoft competition for high school students, where school
teams work with a mentor to develop software or an app with a given theme. The
competition would encourage students to enter technological fields; at the same
time, the partnership with Microsoft Stores would provide resources to
students, said Barkow.

McGeough of Devon, UK, won third-place for her version of a customer-loyalty
card. The branded card employs a rewards system where customers accrue points
not only through buying Microsoft products, but also through interaction with
designated community partners and service organizations.

established the Deep-Dive Challenge as a way to give prospective students and
others the chance to be part of a Notre Dame experience,” said Mary Goss,
senior director of the Notre Dame MBA. “The variety and depth of ideas that
came forward was truly impressive. We appreciate Microsoft’s willingness to
sponsor the challenge, and all of those who devoted time and creative talents
to take part.”

The Notre Dame MBA Mini Deep-Dive Challenge was inspired by
Interterm Intensives, a signature component of the Notre Dame MBA curriculum.
Each spring and fall, MBA students participate in intense four-day sessions
involving real-world presentations and case competitions from some of the top
Fortune 100 companies, including Boeing, Coca-Cola, General Electric and

A previous Deep-Dive Challenge held in January 2011 featured a
sustainability case sponsored by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, manufacturer
of the Keurig coffee makers.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader
in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize
their full potential.

The Notre Dame MBA at the Mendoza College of Business enrolls
approximately 340 students annually in its one-year and two-year programs. The
program is designed to sharpen students’ analytical and problem-solving skills,
enhance their leadership ability and increase emphasis on ethical decision
making. Students have the opportunity to study the complexities of global
business through international immersions in Asia, Latin America and other

The Notre Dame MBA is ranked 24th among U.S. business schools by Bloomberg
Businessweek and No. 4 worldwide on the 2010-2011 Aspen Institute’s “Beyond
Grey Pinstripes,” an alternative ranking that measures the school’s integration
of sustainability and social responsibility into curricula and research. The
Mendoza College also is a member of the Forté Foundation, a consortium of major
corporations and top business schools supporting women in business leadership


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