Manderson MBA Case Team:

Setting the Standard

Finding Words

Case Team's last meeting of the year is tomorrow and their advisor, Quoc Hoang, is trying to write his year-end reflection. He wants to sum up the year in a fitting way: celebrating the wins, acknowledging the hardships, and, above all, showing his team how proud he is of them. He is struggling to find the right words. Curious, he types this query into ChatGPT: "tell me about the university of alabama's mba case team."

ChatGPT thinks for a nanosecond while zooming around the internet, gathering all of the information it can find. Then, it begins spitting out content:

"The University of Alabama's MBA Case Team is a group of students enrolled in the MBA program at The University of Alabama who compete in national and international case competitions," it reports. "The team is composed of a select group of MBA students who have a strong interest in business strategy and problem-solving."

"The MBA Case Team at The University of Alabama has a strong reputation for excellence in case competition," it continues. "The team competes against other top MBA programs from around the world and has consistently placed in the top tier of competition. The team's success is due to its members' dedication, hard work, and preparation."

"All true," Hoang thinks as he scans the five-paragraph report. He types, "write me a year-end reflection that I can share with my team. tone should be conversational and should not be more than 3 minutes."

The AI gets to work.

The result is not bad, but feels a little dry, rinsed of the vivid experiences the team has gone through together. So Hoang turns, in a group chat, to the team itself: What memories do you have of this year?

The responses come in: Eating Korean chicken on the floor at the Ritz. Learning Adobe Premiere Pro the night before a video presentation was due. Pre-competition rituals ranging from prayer, to singing the national anthem, to doing handstands, to dancing the Griddy. Eating at Whataburger at 3:30 AM. Losing James Kelley in Breckenridge, Colorado.

"Quoc is not the hero we deserved," wrote Andrew Ravine, "but the hero we needed." Buoyed by these vivid memories, Hoang smiles. It has been quite a year, and he now knows what to say.

Cases in Different Places

This year, the Case Team traveled to eight competitions in six different states, competing against top schools and consistently winning or placing throughout the year.

National Black MBA Association's Graduate Case Competition

The team, represented by Haleigh Davis, Maya Campbell, Salma Raouf and Jordan Smith, advanced to the finals in the National Black MBA Association’s Graduate Case Competition in September 2022. They were asked to develop a U.S. marketing strategy that builds awareness and long-term brand affinity among African-American consumers.

“We all worked so hard,” said Davis. “I can’t say that enough. Like, to make finals, in a field of so many teams, and make it to that room to present in front of executives. How many people can say that?”

Florida Southern College MBA Case Competition

Two teams competed virtually at Florida Southern College's MBA Case Competition in November 2022, finishing first and third. Teams were given four weeks to develop a recruitment and retention strategy for Saddle Creek Logistics Services. It was a unique format where each team, working separately, created a presentation deck along with an accompanying 20-minute video.

1st Place Team: James Kelley, Naythan McNally, Andrew Ravine, Caroline Wacker

3rd Place Team: Aija Abele, Isabel Frassato, Jack Pierson, Nathan Yamaguchi

"It was an honor to be recognized amongst other strong students from schools all across the US, and especially next to the other University of Alabama team that placed first!" said Abele.

IDEAcorps MBA Consulting Challenge

The team -- Grace Brandon, Michael Duggar, Sam Kastel, Hannah Prescott, and Nicholas Perera -- worked remotely for eight weeks with BypassLines to develop strategies to refocus the company's value proposition and grow its business as part of the IDEAcorps MBA Consulting Challenge, hosted by Loyola University New Orleans.

The January 2023 competition experience included visits to New Orleans' innovation centers and networking with leaders within the local entrepreneurship ecosystem. The team's scaling strategy won first place which included $5,000 for the student team and $20,000 for BypassLines. The money will allow BypassLines’ founders, Charon Flowers Maple and Spencer Davis, to fund the students' recommendations and make a lasting impact on the local community.

"It was a rewarding opportunity to be a part of this team and to work with such determined entrepreneurs! I look forward to the bright future in store for BypassLines," said Prescott.

Race & Case

Ski race combined with a business case? Why not? In January 2023, Case Team competed in Race & Case in Denver, winning $2,000 and earning a third place finish.

Race & Case is a case competition where 90% of the team's score is earned from the business presentation and 10% is based on the results of the ski race. The team -- Aija Abele, Price Dukes, McKenzie Huckaby, and James Kelley -- developed a strategy to rebuild trust and establish a foundation for growth at a neurorehabilitation hospital.

"We were passionate about what we were talking about because we took a unique approach and gave it 100% every day leading up to our presentation," said Huckaby.

Keybank/Ohio State Minority MBA Student Case Competition

Team members Allen Fletcher, Jordan Smith, and Hannah Stumpfl competed against 24 other teams at the 19th Annual Keybank/Ohio State Minority MBA Student Case Competition in February 2023, finishing 4th place and winning $6,000.

Teams were tasked with identifying how KeyBank could leverage its unique strengths and resources to close the health equity gap. The team pitched an idea that would invest $9.5 billion to put bank branches in inner city schools, provide students with employment and learning opportunities, and generate ROI for KeyBank’s shareholders. 

Fletcher and Smith also won individual awards for Best Presenter and Best Q&A, respectively. 

"Hannah was an amazing leader from the time we got the case until our final presentation...her competitive spirit and drive, inspired Jordan and me and helped us achieve greatness," said Fletcher.

FSU/Southstate Bank Small Business Case Competition

Bryant Long, Gehrig Prozorowski, and Rosemary Hartline-Neal represented Case Team by competing against 14 other teams at the Florida State University Small Business Case Competition in February 2023, winning first place ($1,500).

Teams were tasked with determining how a professional services provider could capture additional market share within the agriculture industry. The team identified closed ecosystems as a growing opportunity that aligned well with the company’s technology solutions and developed an implementation plan that would allow the company to enter and grow revenue in the space. 

"Our recommendation was very research heavy and our storyline was dependent on making sure those data points landed, but we had a hard time limit of ten minutes," said Hartline-Neal.

Southeastern Conference MBA Case Competition

In April 2023, Case Team finished in third place at the SEC MBA Case Competition, hosted by the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. The team, represented by Aija Abele, Grace Brandon, Nicholas Perera, and Andrew Ravine, was awarded $3,000. It was the fourth year in a row that the University of Alabama advanced to the finals of this competition.

WestRock, a leading provider of sustainable paper and packaging solutions, served as this year’s case sponsor. Teams had 24 hours to prepare their recommended solutions, which they presented on Saturday to a panel of company executives in divisional and final rounds of competition.

“We were the only team that presented in the finals that didn’t win an individual award in the morning. I think it’s because the strength of our team didn’t come from one person; instead, it was our communication and ability to come together that made our team strong,” said Perera.

University of Iowa Business Analytics Case Competition

Case Team -- represented by Elyse Peters, Hannah Prescott, Hannah Stumpfl, and Nathan Yamaguchi -- rounded out the year by competing in the University of Iowa Business Analytics Case Competition in April 2023. Teams were tasked with analyzing data for one of the world's largest producers of beer and developing a strategy for entering a new market. While the team did not advance to the final round of the competition, the team left with valuable lessons that will serve them well at future competitions.

“The outcome wasn’t what I hoped for our team. But I now realize the true value of this competition was the process to get here – it was hard, and it taught me so much about myself and my teammates. It’s refreshing to be on a dedicated team like this one,” said Peters.

Different Cases, Different Faces, Same Impact


Places where first-year MBA student James Kelley has led outdoor adventures: Bahamas, Ecuador, Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand, South Korea, Germany, and the Netherlands -- and those are just the international destinations. He has also led trips throughout the continental United States, including Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, South Carolina, and Florida, teaching surfing, skiing, hiking, mountain biking—you name it.

The adventurous MBA student said: “Case Team is made up of a group of individuals who want to know 'the why'. We take what we do seriously and understand we have the power to change lives. We are full throttle or no champagne bottle.”


As an undergraduate, Salma Raouf attended that other state university in Alabama. But when it came to her MBA, she saw no other option but the Capstone. "I needed a new campus, a new experience, and a new network," she explained.

"I joined Case Team to compete in the National Black MBA Association's Case Competition in Atlanta this year," she said. After the competition, Raouf felt that she had found her "why."

The Mobile native planned to leave the state after graduation, but instead realized there are great opportunities available in Alabama. Later this year, she will join Regions Bank in Birmingham as a Risk Quantitative Model Validation Analyst.


"I didn't know that working with the team would be so much more than just working," said MBA student Sam Kastel. At their Case Team orientation retreat, Quoc Hoang (team advisor) asked the team members to be vulnerable. He gave them prompts and asked them to stand up when they identified with key themes.

For Kastel, this vulnerability forged strong bonds between the teammates, and allowed them to work together in remarkable ways, including winning $25,000 at the IDEAcorps MBA Consulting Challenge in New Orleans.


Rosemary Hartline-Neal is frank about her background: “I grew up in rural Alabama below the federal poverty line, so I never had high expectations for where life would take me.”

But even with those humble expectations, Hartline-Neal managed to earn a Coca-Cola First-Generation scholarship to pay for her education, as well as admission into Manderson’s MBA program, and a place on the Case Team.

Now, she is poised to enter the leadership development program at McKinsey & Company, one of the most prestigious and selective consulting firms in the world.

This year, the Manderson MBA Case Team has produced deliverables for eight companies, projecting significant impact through their recommended strategies, and breathing life back into small businesses.

Team members have accepted internship and full-time roles in a wide variety of industries. Their employers include Lockheed Martin, McKinsey & Company, and a diplomatic role for the Latvian government.

Throughout the year, competition teams were consistently praised for their camaraderie, focus on data and research, and commitment to a standard of excellence.