BHP students Robert Ma, Thomas Pigeon, Jane Tedjajuwana and Shannon Wey took fourth place at the McDonough-Hilltop Business Strategy Challenge at Georgetown University in Washington, DC this month. Twenty teams competed, 11 from the U.S. and nine international, in this unique non-profit case consulting competition. This year’s case centered on expanding job opportunities available to members of the National Institute for the Blind (NIB).
“The main goal of NIB is to help the blind become independent personally and financially. Our job in the case competition was to find ways for the NIB to open up job opportunities not only within the federal government, but in the private sector and in the service industries,” said Shannon Wey.
The team presented a three-pronged solution which involved starting an internship program allowing blind people to get a foot in the door with employers, building a stronger network of partner companies across the nation, and implementing a talent showcase open to companies to show what blind people are capable of with current assisted technologies.
The unique emphasis on non-profit organizations altered the way the students view not-for-profit work, “We realized all the different obstacles that are placed in front of a non-profit, be it people’s biases against the people the organization is trying to serve, to limited opportunities, to financial restrictions,” said Thomas Pigeon. “It gives you a greater appreciation for how they maximize every dollar they are given.”
“Non-profit put such a huge twist on it. I’ve done six or seven case competitions and this is the one I’ve enjoyed the most because the nature of the case made if feel more fulfilling because I felt like I was contributing to a greater cause,” said Robert Ma. The students were also able to dedicate more of their efforts in areas, which may not receive as much attention in typical business case competitions. “Because it’s a nonprofit we didn’t just focus in on revenue,” said Jane Tedjajuwana. “We didn’t look at the financial projection at all in the first round because they just wanted to hear our ideas and gage how realistic it was because ideally they wanted to be able to implement the solution.”
The team also enjoyed meeting other competitors from outside of the U.S. and hearing their global perspective on the case. “It provided a really unique experience for all of us. We appreciated how international it was. We met people from Hong Kong, Australia, Germany and Singapore,” said Robert Ma.
After taking a closer look at non-profit organizations, all of the team members said they would now definitely consider working with non-profits after college.
The trip was not all work. The group managed to find time to visit the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and made sure to make a pit stop at Georgetown Cupcake.