Texas Tech University

MBA Student Wins Best Presenter at Big 12 Competition

April Chavez

Sara Sorge

As a student approaching graduation, Sara Sorge, an MBA student in the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, has plenty to celebrate, including her "Best Presenter" award from the 13th Annual Big 12 MBA Case Competition.

Sorge and three other MBA students, Reynaldo Torres, Ayushi Chintakayala and William Sommer, represented Rawls College at West Virginia University during the conference-wide MBA Competition. The competition aims to test MBA students on the core competencies of management, including teamwork, leadership, problem-solving and presentation skills.

"The competition provides the opportunity to build problem-solving skills under an extremely tight deadline," said Joshua Sears, an assistant professor of management at Rawls College who coached and advised this year's team. "The teams only have about 20 hours to read the case, construct their solution, and put together a presentation."
Although the team had been practicing and working through case studies as a group since December of 2018, this was the first time this particular group of students competed together.

"The day that our team spent preparing our case was very intense," Sorge said. "I loved the challenge of trying to incorporate everyone's ideas and playing off each other's strengths to present our answers. I think we all learned a lot."

This year, Rawls College MBA students competed against students from Baylor University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Texas Christian University and West Virginia University to solve a real-world business problem for Grant Thornton LLP, the sixth largest U.S. accounting and advisory organization. Students were asked to develop a contingency plan for public-sector contractors to maintain revenue and avoid layoffs and furloughs during government shutdowns.

After two rounds of oral presentations to industry professionals, teams were judged on the quality of recommendations and realistic financial projections.

Although the Rawls College team did not place in the top three at this year's competition, the team was excited to celebrate Sara's "Best Presenter" award, which goes to the individual that does the best job of clearly and effectively communicating information during the presentation in a professional manner.

"Sara was truly amazing in TTU's presentation," Sears said. "She demonstrated confidence in her delivery and command of the space. As I watched her present, I had a good feeling that she might win the Best Presenter award."

Sorge believes that her time at Rawls College helped her prepare for the competition and win the individual award.

"One of the things that I believe helped me bring home the Best Presenter award was all of the practice I have had in my MBA courses," Sorge said. "I was able to speak slowly and clearly and really focus on approaching the presentation as a real boardroom presentation. I tried to make it personable and professional."

Sorge strongly encourages other MBA students to get involved in the competition.

"Not only was it fun and challenging, but it helped me prepare for job interviews," she said. "Participating in these types of competitions gives you something to talk about with potential employers, and it shows them that you have the ability to work as part of a team and problem-solve."

Sears added that the competition is also a great opportunity to network with a sponsoring company and other MBA students.

"This year our students had the opportunity to interact with representatives from Grant Thornton," Sears said. "Some of the previous sponsors include AT&T, Boeing and Deloitte. The students also have a great time networking and socializing with their peers from other Big 12 schools. "

Rawls College is set to host the Big 12 MBA Case Competition in 2022.