Cornell University

October 26 2012

Human capital champs

ILR and Johnson team win national case competition

A team of five graduate students from the ILR School and Johnson at Cornell University won first place in the annual National MBA Human Capital Case Competition.

ILR students on the winning team include Catherine Guydan MILR '14, Royce Lee MILR '13 and Kelli May MILR/MBA '14.

Cornell competed against 11 other business school teams from across North America, including the University of Southern California and Yale University. For winning top honors, the Cornell team received $10,000.

Teams were asked to develop a plan and presentation for a Harvard Business Case focusing on Salesforce.com Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce.com. To become financially sustainable, the foundation began selling discounted software licenses to nonprofits.

"Our work was to develop a strategy to attract and retain salespeople, as well as recommendations on how to provide product support to nonprofits. We were also asked to provide our thinking on how to best measure the impact of our recommendations," Lee said.

Lee adds that while human capital issues were an integral part of the case and competition, the team also felt it was important to bring in other aspects of the business, such as finance and marketing. "This showed our ability to create a comprehensive set of recommendations, which definitely made us stand out from the others."

The competition is funded by Deloitte and GE and sponsored by the Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University.

"We are taught that human resource professionals should have business acumen and partner with business leaders to align the HR strategy with the company's overall strategy. This competition made it possible for us to think about what that really looks like in practice," May said.