Mendoza School of Business

Notre Dame MBA wins first place in Illinois competition

Published: March 14, 2018 / Author: Carol Elliott

A team of University of Notre Dame MBA students took first place in the 2018 Illinois MBA Strategy Case Competition, besting 15 other business schools. The event, now in its 10th year, took place Feb. 8-10 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Faith Miller (MBA ’18), Austin Gilbertson (MBA ’19), Chris Kunnen (MBA ’18) and Zachary Kozak (MBA ’18) had 24 hours to analyze a complex business strategy case provided by event sponsor Lockton Companies, the world’s largest privately owned, independent insurance brokerage firm. The students then presented their solution to a panel of judges that included Lockton executives as well as strategy experts from various professional and academic organizations. Frank Germann, assistant marketing professor at Mendoza, served as faculty adviser.

Teams were judged on teamwork, time management, understanding of the issue, strategic thinking and analysis, and the strength of their recommendations.

“All four of us come from varied backgrounds so debating ideas early on proved quite helpful in avoiding pursuing a narrow path,” said Kunnen. “And from previous experience, we’ve learned that simplicity of message is absolutely critical. Although our final recommendation was complex, we made sure that above all else, the story was clear and memorable.”

“As a team, we had to come together to develop a sound hypothesis, find and collect data to support the hypothesis, and refine our recommendation, all the while perfecting our delivery to sell our recommendation —  on just two hours of sleep,” said Kozak. “While exhausting, it was a great experience to represent Notre Dame in such a positive manner.”

Purdue University took second place, while the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign came in third.

The Notre Dame MBA is offered in two formats:

The Notre Dame MBA One-Year program, which is an intense, May-to-May program primarily for individuals who seek additional knowledge and skills to further their careers; and the Notre Dame MBA Two-Year program that is typically for “career changers” who want to better prepare themselves for a long-term career in business. In keeping with the Notre Dame and Mendoza College of Business mission, the program emphasizes a rigorous academic experience that is centered on business as a force for good in society.

For more information about the Notre Dame MBA, contact the program at 574-631-8488 or email