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From left, a competition organizer, Albert Rhee, Eugene Chang, a competitor from NYU, a competition organizer, Javier Perez and Eric Cheng.

Tepper Case Competition "Most Innovative" winners

A win for innovation

Kellogg part-time students win “Most Innovative” at case competition

By Paul Dailing

1/2/2014 - In between full-time jobs and enrollment in Kellogg’s Part-Time MBA Program, five students also found the time to take home the “Most Innovative Solution” award and $2,500 in a prominent case competition.

“We all each brought our own niche skills to the case competition,” said Phillip Besoiu. “I think that’s what helped us win that award.”

Besoiu, who work as a packaging engineer at PepsiCo in addition to his Kellogg classwork, was part of a team of part-time students who decided to enter the International Case Competition at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh.

Besoiu, Eugene Chang, Albert Rhee, Javier Perez and Eric Cheng were awarded Most Innovative at the November competition, which challenged participants to create an overseas expansion plan for Eaton Corporation’s low-voltage air circuit breakers.

The Kellogg students’ plan called for data-collecting software that would notify the users of outages before they happen.

“We called it a failure-predicting software,” Besoiu said. “It could provide some kind of cost savings for the end user if they could see an outage coming before it arrives.”

Predicting outages

The technology is out there, the teammates said, but has not been applied in the capacity their case suggested.

“The market is trying to be more proactive with all of the data coming along. We were seeing some of the new products had capabilities to use some of the data coming along,” Perez said. “There was not enough focus on the predictive side of things, we felt.”

Rhee, who works in the power industry, said he suggested the software based on other data-driven technologies like accident prediction in cars.

He said the case competition gave him valuable experience presenting to executives, not the engineers he’s used to.

“You don’t get a lot of opportunity to present to executives, director level people from other companies,” Rhee said. “For me, it was really an opportunity to practice having executive presence.”

Rhee said he wants his fellow part-time students to see that case competitions are doable, even with full-time jobs.

“It is something you can handle if you make time for it and organize,” he said.