Illustration features computer screen displaying arrow hitting bull's-eye target
Students in Business Policy, a capstone course culminating in the Target Case Study Competition, were partway through their research when they had to adapt and take all work online.
Open communication, virtual Q&As, and positivity keep case study competition on track
Apr 21, 2020, by Staff Writer

The Target Case Study Competition is part of Business Policy (BUS400), a capstone course on business strategy that puts students in the role of top management teams. Everything in the course, from the analysis of case studies to intensive industry research, leads up to the competition in which student teams are challenged to create a strategic business plan to enhance Target's competitiveness. At the end of the semester, the student teams present their proposals to some of Target's top leaders.

This semester's challenge focuses on Target's pet care division, says Michael A. Roberto, D.B.A, Trustee Professor of Management, Coordinator of BUS400, and one of the faculty members who teaches the course. Students were partway through their research when they had to pivot to remote collaboration.

“My whole class was very adaptive to the quick switch we had to make" thanks to "lots of continued open communication and planning, Zoom sessions—and positivity.” 

In a typical semester, students in the course visit Target stores to gather first-hand observations and interview Target leaders. This year, COVID-19 restrictions mid-semester meant the students took their work online, conducting two video conference Q&A sessions with Target leaders. “The student turnout was tremendous,” said Roberto, “and the students asked phenomenal questions.”

Said Cassidy Forsley '20, Finance and Marketing double major and student in Roberto's class, “Overall ... I think my whole class was very adaptive to the quick switch we had to make." What was key? "Lots of continued open communication and planning, Zoom sessions—and positivity,” Forsley said.

“We were able to work together and come up with a creative solution, which included a digital animation for our presentation. I'm not sure we would have had the same outcome if we weren’t virtual."

Angelique Perrone '20, Marketing major and Forsley's teammate, says the virtual work reminded her of her internship the previous summer at Cigna, where more than half of her team worked remotely. “During the internship, I had to learn how to adjust and be a team member online,” just as she did for the competition. 

To sharpen their strategic thinking skills in preparation for the Target project, students read and discussed case studies on companies like Tesla, Disney, and Uber, as well as several authored by Roberto and published by Harvard University onTrader Joe’s, and by University of Michigan on Planet Fitness.

The case studies were key to prepping the students for additional research, some of which was conducted with virtual assistance from the staff of Bryant’s award-winning Douglas and Judith Krupp Library.

The pieces all build toward final presentations. “We were able to come up with a creative solution, which included a digital animation for our presentation. I'm not sure we would have had the same outcome if we weren’t virtual," Perrone said.

The top solutions bring with them some cash – $2,000 for the winning team, $750 for the runner up, and $250 for third place – awarded by Target leaders who judge the finalists’ presentations.

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