GSU Robinson College MBA Students Offer Winning Solutions For IHG

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024

To succeed in today’s dynamic business environment, you need more than academic prowess. Practical experience with solving real-world business problems is essential. The Robinson College of Business is committed to providing experiential learning experiences, nurturing students into strong leaders, and providing employers with top-tier talent that drives organizational success.

IHG First Place team

As part of Robinson’s new reimagined and streamlined MBA curriculum, Robinson has introduced a case competition embedded in the semester-long capstone course, Global Competitive Strategy. Over the course of the semester, student teams tackle a complex strategic problem provided by a partner company. The teams present their recommended solutions to corporate executives who select the winning team.

Participating in the competition underscores the realization that tackling complex issues demands not only technical proficiency and knowledge, but also the synergistic power of collective teamwork. Reflecting on his experience, recent Robinson MBA graduate Ben Matistic, a member of the spring 2024 winning team, attested, “This course allowed me to take everything I learned in my MBA experience and apply it in the real world. I was able to engage in a strategic way and learn what it takes to get ahead in business.”

This past spring, the class partnered with IHG Hotels & Resorts (IHG) – whose Americas headquarters are in Atlanta – to identify revenue growth opportunities for the brand. The thirteen participating teams delved into the intricacies of the hospitality industry and IHG’s business landscape to develop innovative solutions that would provide IHG with a strong competitive advantage.

Douglas Nagy, Director in the office of the CEO for IHG, remarked, “Georgia State is an important source of talent for IHG. Over 40 people at our corporate headquarters here in Atlanta are Georgia State alumni, and we want to strengthen that relationship. The MBA case competition offers a wonderful way for students to get experience dealing with a real-life business problem that mirrors the challenges we tackle daily at our headquarters.”

Following weeks of rigorous preparation, the teams presented their proposed solutions to a panel of judges comprised of senior-level IHG employees. Four standout teams advanced to the final round, where they presented to an executive panel of IHG judges. Nagy commented that “Talking with the other IHG judges, we all agreed that the student presentations offered a diverse array of perspectives that could be really complementary to the work we’re pushing forward on.”

The victorious team of Alex Rinaudo, Mikaela Bridges, Asma Raza Shah, and Ben Matistic devised a hypothetical merger and acquisitions strategy that outshone competitors as the most promising solution for IHG. Matistic attributed the team’s success to the comprehensive market research underpinning their proposal, impressing the IHG judges with their intimate understanding of the brand and its requirements.

Matistic, who recently secured a full-time position at Monarch Private Capital, commented that “Having the opportunity to present research in front of high-level executives built up my confidence to effectively interact with executives that I will take with me into my career.”

Dr. Alex Tawse, the professor of the capstone course, emphasized that, “Students experience the pressure of working in a team to solve a complex business problem, just like they would in a real job. The interaction with business executives also makes it an excellent networking opportunity. Our corporate partners get to see GSU’s diverse student talent in action as well as hear a broad range of innovative solutions to their business challenge. It is a true win-win event!”

Learn more about Robinson College of Business MBA.