Inspiring Innovation with the Bartley briefCASE Challenge

2014-11-14 13.36.13On November 14th, over 200 Villanova students and 40 executives from various companies kicked off the weekend long Bartley briefCASE Challenge. As a required component of the Backpack to Briefcase program for all junior business majors, this case competition allows students to take a step back from their coursework to apply everything that they have learned. This year’s case dealt with PepsiCo and corporate social responsibility as the firm must deal with the fact that many of their products are considered unhealthy. Teams of four or five members were restricted to using a 30 page packet to inform all of their decisions in the case. Unlike your traditional case competition, this program strives to be realistic by forcing the students to work in randomly assigned teams since that is often the way that real business works.

This challenge is one more way that Villanova inspires innovation in its students. One of the faculty members coordinating the program, Ward Utter stated, “It encourages students to find a breakthrough way to solve a business problem. The judges really value creative solutions that require some disruption.” With this innovative mindset, the hope is that students will be able to solve complex problems using different ways of thinking about business. This sentiment is also present from a student’s perspective as the competition’s structure requires creativity to perform well. For example, Allison Meade, a member of this year’s winning team, expressed, “Innovation and creativity was highly encouraged. Teams were encouraged to make assumptions with the information we were given and to build our strategic plans off of those.” Utilizing these skills in the format of a case competition is an enormous leap forward in making innovation a part of one’s everyday life.

Looking towards the future, the Bartley briefCASE Challenge aims to be a fixture in the Villanova School of Business for years to come. Not only is the competition one more differentiator for the school, but it is an additional step in helping students use innovation and creativity to shape the world after graduation.