Questrom MBA Team Finishes in the Final 12 at the First-Ever John Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition

A screenshot of the Questrom MBA team after they competed in the inaugural John Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition, where they delivered recommendations on how corporations can address racial injustice. Clockwise from top left: Faetitia Desamours (Questrom’21), Cecilia Yudin (Questrom’22), Teilachanell Angel (Questrom’21), Misty Farrell (Questrom’21), Jamal Love (Questrom’22), Ajay Raghavan (Questrom’22) 

 

Highlights the growing success of students in diversity, equity, and inclusion competitions

Kudos to the MBA student team of Faetitia Desamours, Misty Farrell, Jamal Love, Ajay Raghavan, Teilachanell Angel, and Cecilia Yudin, for their success in the inaugural John Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition sponsored by Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and held January 21, 2021. The six-member group, a mix of part-time and full-time MBA students, first advanced to the top 24 teams out of 105, then ranked in the final 12, finally earning an honorable mention and a cash prize in the semi-final round.

The competition, named after the late civil rights icon and congressman, sought to connect corporations and students interested in business to create innovative and actionable racial justice initiatives for those corporations.

“We were ecstatic. The team came together so quickly and put together such an impressive presentation,” said Dionne Lomax, faculty in residence at Questrom’s Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Lecturer, Markets, Public Policy & Law, who advised the team along with Senior Lecturer for Strategy & Innovation Greg Stoller.

Team members were bullish on the competition, which bills itself as the first focused on the intersection of business and racial inequality. The format was virtual, thanks to COVID-19, which posed its challenges and made success all the sweeter. “It felt great to be a part of a competition with this type of focus,” said Love. “I was impressed with the range of judges who participated. I saw leaders in multiple different industries, not just business. That was good to see because solutions to problems of systemic racism should be analyzed from varying perspectives.”

“I was surprised by the level of investment from corporate partners on this issue and by the creativity and groundbreaking ideas generated by all the teams,” noted Desamours. “Everything I learned in our MBA program was put to the test and enabled me to emerge with a unique set of experiences that are transferrable to my next professional endeavor.”

Trending Upward

Questrom’s experience in the John Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition is indicative of the school’s growing success in competitions involving DEI. “On both the graduate and undergraduate side, we’re seeing an increase in the participation of students of color in both internal and external case competitions, particularly those that specifically focus on diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Cecilia Yudin, who leads DEI initiatives at Questrom.

Examples of this success include the MBA team of Fellenia Chan, Victoria Phang, Josué Pedroza, and Spencer Yeh, who advanced to the semi-final round of the National Diversity Case Competition. The competition, sponsored by the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, was held over Zoom on Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend in January 2021.

“Despite the time pressure and being in a completely virtual format, I was amazed at the quality of work our team was able to achieve,” said Chan. “Although our solution was not advanced to the final round, I’m grateful that companies are dedicated to diversity initiatives and strive to make socially conscious decisions.”

In addition, a team of undergraduates, comprised of Chinda Eleonu, Rachel Harmon, Michael Shiferaw, and Keziah Yobo, took part in the National Black MBA

Michael Shiferaw (Questrom’21) received the “best presenter” award in the National Black MBA Association Case Competition, undergraduate division.

Association Case Competition, undergraduate division, in September 2020. Shiferaw received the “best presenter” award for his team’s round. “My time in Questrom has made me better at working in teams and seeing the perspective of others. This experience was no different and it helped to make me a better teammate,” said Shiferaw.

Taken together, these accomplishments signal that “students are recognizing and believing that Questrom will support them in their efforts to take advantage of opportunities like case competitions that allow them to demonstrate their ability to be amazing business people, all with an eye toward diversity,” said Lomax.

“Case competitions are voluntary; participating in them is on top of what students are expected to do,” Yudin concludes. “The fact that all of these students were willing to channel their energy outside of class to do something about diversity, equity, and inclusion—some of the biggest problems this country is facing—should be celebrated.”

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