South Dakota State University’s entries in the North Dakota/South Dakota Society for Human Resource Management student case study competition finished first and second. The competition was held in Fargo, North Dakota, in late March.
The winning team consisted of Sarah Cook, Kevin Hanson, Caitlin Hughes and Brandi Piatz. The second-place team was Leighton Messner, Jessica Singewald and Anders Svensen.
“To prepare for it, I’d say all of the courses in the Ness School of Management and Economics really helped,” said Hanson, who will graduate in May. The Sioux Falls native is earning a bachelor’s degree in business economics. “We were able to look at the situations from a people aspect instead of a cost aspect.
“Also, Professor (Thomas) Clark did a great job of teaching us how to give presentations. We gave presentations every week, which helped me be more comfortable in those situations,” Hanson said. “At the time, we didn’t know what the others had presented because we were so focused on our presentation. We expected to do well, but not to win. We were shocked at the results, especially to have both teams place first and second.”
Each team was given a case study one week before the conference and challenged with thinking up a solution and then presenting that solution at the conference.
The case study was a 5-year-old information technology company, which was going through a change of leadership and experiencing a high turnover rate.
“We looked at 3-, 6- and 12-month plans, and developed 30-, 90- and 180-day plans, too,” Hanson said. “The new CEO had been there for four months, and we had him have direct interviews with each employee; it was a company of 85 people. Following those meetings, we looked at the answers and saw if there was a need to adjust the company values. We saw the company’s values didn’t change on paper, but the actions changed a lot, which changed employees’ perspective of the company.
“We broke the case down and talked through which direction we thought was right,” he said. “We met every day and talked everything over. By the time we were finished with writing, we started polishing our presentation. I’d say we didn’t feel nervous at all; we felt ready and prepared.”