Six undergraduate students from the O’Neill School travelled to West Lafayette, Ind., last week to participate in the Purdue HR Case Competition. The team, which included Rachael Stapleton, Keirstan Oeffinger, Xavier Ramirez, and Ananya Sekharan, won “Best Overall Solution” for their creative business strategy. Ramirez was also named “Best Overall Presenter, Undergraduate Division,” for his professionalism, enthusiasm, articulation, and delivery.
For the competition, teams were asked to develop solutions for a company that was having a difficult time recruiting and retaining talent. The students conducted research in advance, then presented their solutions to a panel of judges on the day of the event. The O’Neill team’s recommendations included job sharing, implementing cultural structure changes, and creating a recruiting program at local high schools.
Stapleton, who served as team captain, said the students spent about four weeks preparing before the competition. They met up on weekends to bounce ideas around and do practice cases from the Society of Human Resource Management.
O’Neill students Zelyah Barajas and Ashlyn Brown also practiced with the team to prepare for future competitions. Barajas said, “The best part was the learning experience. Being around so many people in the same field gave me great insight for the future and how I want to continue with my major. It also helped me become better at what to look for in HR cases for the future.”
Team members said their O’Neill human resources management coursework prepared them well to compete. “Classes like SPEA-V373 provide essential foundational HR knowledge, while classes like SPEA-V477 allow students to take their knowledge further and practice critical application skills and thinking,” said Ramirez.
Stapleton noted that the real-world experience offered by her professors also gave O’Neill students a competitive advantage. “My employee recruitment class that I have with Professor [Cheryl] Hughes was perfect for this case! … We have some of the best professors in the field. The fact that they are all practitioners is something that does not get talked about enough.”
The students are looking forward to competing in more case competitions in the future. Oeffinger said, “I absolutely loved getting the opportunity to network with individuals from many different parts of the country. Additionally, participating in the competition allowed me to touch up on my presentation skills at a professional level. I will be forever thankful that O’Neill provided us with the opportunity to attend this event, and I look forward to the years to come.”