Management Alumnus Provides Winning Suggestion
Team From Alma Mater Wins Competition that MBA Grad's Employer Held
Dec. 7, 2011
A tip from an alumnus turned into $10,000 for a team of UT Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management students recently when they won the inaugural healthcare case competition organized by insurer and medical services provider Humana Inc.
MBA graduate Adam Rivon immediately thought of his alma mater when he learned that his employer, Humana, was launching an annual contest to gauge graduate students’ abilities to build viable business opportunities from healthcare challenges.
“I competed in several case competitions while at the University and knew there would probably be some appetite,” said Rivon, a December 2010 graduate. So he contacted Full-Time MBA Program Director Lisa Shatz.
The competition generated so much interest that Shatz held tryouts for prospective contestants. Those best at giving a five-minute, five-slide presentation outlining “Humana’s position in the United States market relative to competitors and so forth,” made the team, said member Andy Cyders.
Ultimately, Cyders and fellow MBA students Ryan McLaughlin, Katie Ryan and Jordan Tracy emerged victorious from a finalist field of teams from Emory and George Washington universities, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame, the University of North Carolina and Washington University in St. Louis.
From left: Andy Cyders, Jordan Tracy, Ryan McaLaughlin and Katie Ryan
The case question, Cyders said, “was, basically: Take a look at telemedicine. Take a look at home healthcare. Figure out which Humana should enter. … Describe why, and if you do think they should enter one or both, tell us how they should do it.”
The foursome found home delivery of medical services offered a stronger business alternative. Their research showed home healthcare not only reduces costs, it also minimizes medical errors and hospital readmissions — and most patients prefer it.
So the team developed a market entry plan calling for acquisition of an established home healthcare provider with a national presence.
For each of the two finalist heats at Humana’s headquarters in Louisville, Ky., late last month, the UT Dallas group stood before an audience of company employees and competing teams to give a 20-minute case presentation, followed by a 10 minute question-and-answer session. Director-level Humana executives judged them.
The finals’ rivalry was of such high quality, Cyders said, that the judges decided to award the runner-up UNC team $8,000 instead of the previously announced $5,000.
“We were obviously in the company of very bright people,” Tracy said. “Every team was great….So going up against people with such impressive backgrounds and still coming up on top is very hard to describe — beyond rewarding.”
However, Full-Time MBA Program Director Shatz fully expected top results. “The analytical nature of our program is very much geared to training future problem solvers,” she said. “Based on this, it is not surprising that we do well in case competitions. These are the same real-world problems that our alumni are solving every day. Andy, Katie, Jordan and Ryan represent the professionalism and drive of our students and alums.”
Besides $10,000, their win guaranteed the group interviews later this month with Infusion, Humana’s leadership-development program for graduate-level talent.
Rivon, the thoughtful JSOM alum, joined Infusion in January. He now works in human resources compensation, leading sales incentive design teams in six business units.
Is he basking in any reflected glory because UT Dallas won?
“Absolutely,” he said. “I am the first employee from the school, and this will do us well for future recruiting seasons. The better we perform, the more likely our students are to get additional opportunities, job offers and, in the end, increase our profile.”