A group of first-year students from the Pamplin College of Business brought home the national championship in the recent Deloitte National Undergraduate Case Competition. (Clockwise from top left) Neal Shah, Caroline Krezel, Bowen Zhang, and Mateo Eral represented Virginia Tech at the competition. Virginia Tech photo

Virginia Tech has cause for celebration, as a group of students from the Pamplin College of Business brought home the national championship in the recent Deloitte National Undergraduate Case Competition. The students, Mateo Eral, Caroline Krezel, Neal Shah, and Bowen Zhang, each of whom is a member of the Delta Epsilon chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon, a professional business fraternity at Virginia Tech, bested 15 other universities from across the nation at the competition, held at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas.

After placing first out of nine teams at the local competition, the team received an all-expense covered invitation to represent Virginia Tech at Deloitte University. Moving forward on to the national leg of the competition meant a harder case prompt and a much tighter time crunch. On the day of the competition, the 16 competing schools were divided into four different rooms to present. The Virginia Tech team faced off against teams from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Boston College, and the Atlanta University Consortium.

“We were thrilled to learn that we had placed first in our room and that we would have the opportunity to compete on the big stage in front of Deloitte partners, principles, and managing directors (PPMDs),” said Krezel, a first-year student majoring in both Corporate Finance and Management Consulting and Analytics. Joining Virginia Tech as finalists were teams from Cornell University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Notre Dame.

“We are so proud to share that we finished in first place overall and brought home Virginia Tech’s first-ever Deloitte NUCC National Championship,” Krezel added.

What is the Deloitte Undergraduate Case Competition?

The Deloitte Undergraduate Case Competition is a competitive business case competition that gives undergraduate students an opportunity to showcase their business acumen, critical thinking, and presentation skills. It provides real-world experience for students to develop practical solutions to complex business challenges while receiving feedback from highly experienced professionals in the industry. The competition is initially offered on a local level, with the winning team from each school offered an invitation to compete at the national level.

How do you think participating in events like this will help you in your future career?

Krezel: I gained a lot of valuable experience through competing in this case competition. From figuring out solutions that would differentiate ourselves from the other competitors to ultimately providing unique but effective ideas to the client to the networking opportunities with Deloitte consultants, this was a one-of-a-kind opportunity. I learned about consulting and working under a time crunch and received genuine testimonies from consultants about both the great parts and the difficult aspects of their job. I came out of this experience feeling more confident about myself in a professional setting and I gained clarity about where I’d like to take my career in the future.

Neal Shah, a first-year Business Information Technology major: Having the opportunity to compete at Deloitte University on such an in-depth and hands-on project was a unique and rewarding experience. This type of exposure to the multitude of necessary skills you need as a consultant was so eye opening and broadened my outlook on where my career might take me. I think I learned the most from networking – getting to have honest and detailed conversations with Deloitte consultants and PPMDs provided so much insight into what consulting in the “real world” looks like.

Bowen Zhang, a first-year student majoring in FinTech and Big Data Analytics: My number one takeaway from this experience was learning how to work together as a team by maximizing each of our strengths and bringing them together in a cohesive manner. I learned how valuable it is to have four differing perspectives integrate to create the best product. I am sure the teamwork skills I have developed through working together as a team for 20-plus hours will continue to impact my future ventures, both personally and professionally.

Mateo Eral, a first-year Finance major: One of the things I learned from this experience was that there are always two sides when it comes to consulting. It is important to have a good, information-packed slide deck but it is just as important to be able to present that slide deck to the audience in a manner that is both informative and easy to understand. I am so grateful to have been part of such a unique experience. Being able to live the life of a consultant and network with people who have been in the industry for years was a great opportunity.