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Nine DU teams compete in 2020 Inclusive Excellence Case Competition

Randy Ho, an undergraduate student at DU, is studying marketing and voice performance. He and Alexander Aleman, a third-year finance major, were the two undergraduate students on Team D, one of nine teams competing in the 2020 Inclusive Excellence Case Competition hosted by the Daniels College of Business.

“When I found out that I was going to be working with graduate students, I was a bit intimidated,” Aleman said. “But it only pushed me to work even harder. I did not want to let my team down.”

“Diversity and inclusion have always been part of my life,” Ho said. “Being a part of a competition that allows me to express my passion for the topic definitely drew me in.”

For 11 years, Daniels faculty and staff have asked students to consider issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace as part of the Inclusive Excellence Case Competition. Teams themselves are required to be diverse, so each team involved a mix of students who are undergraduates, graduates, male, female, domestic, international, from different degree programs and ethnically diverse. 

This year’s case focused on Zayo group, a technology company based in Boulder that already excels in inclusive excellence but wanted to move the needle even more. Nearly every team pointed out that companies who prioritize diversity also perform better financially.

Team C recommended companies embed a change agent on the executive team to drive alignment and transformation at the highest level. Team F suggested that a college and high school mentorship program could help recruitment. They also indicated that company websites should have more diverse profiles and showcase employee journeys on social media.

Team H recommended a robust program to retain and advance minority employees. Team D did some benchmarking with other tech companies, providing internal rate of return modeling related to key diversity metrics.  

In the end, it was the four members of Team D who won the competition. Brent Troxell, a second-year Denver MBA student, has competed in eight case competitions so far during his time at Daniels. He felt this case provided an opportunity to step back and think about the type of workplace he wants to be in and create as a manager.

“It felt great to win after all the work that went into the research and strategy,” Troxell said. “We were glad the judges saw the focus we put on inclusion first because we believe an inclusive culture will drive diversity, not the other way around, and that in turn will drive innovation.”

In addition to Troxell, Aleman and Ho, Team D included Grace Whittle, who is pursuing both a Master’s of Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, as well as an MBA from Daniels.

“I enjoyed this case competition because we took some last-minute risks and changed some of our solutions the day before the presentation,” she said. “Those risks definitely paid off, and I appreciated our team’s willingness to be dynamic and creative.”

Team D won $5,000 for first place. Team I took second place and $3,000. And, for the first time in this competition, two teams tied for third place. Team C and G split the $2,000.

During the live awards ceremony via Zoom, Doug Jackson, CEO of Project Cure, shared that he was impressed with the amount of research done by teams, some digging very deep into the industry.

“There was not one single team who didn’t have a takeaway,” Jackson said. “There was something interesting, creative and thought-provoking to move the needle and help a good company get even better.”

Jackson was one of six judges. Other judges included Louise Atkinson, director of regional sales for Zayo; Marc Bourzutschky, vice president of model risk oversight for Charles Schwab; Lissa Bricker, director of talent acquisition and university relations for Zayo; Dana Jacoby, CEO of DJI Consulting; and Greg Mills, director of competitive intelligence and innovation at Western Union.

Zayo Group, which provides communications infrastructure services, sponsored the case competition.

“Each of the Daniels case competition teams presented strong solutions that showcased their business insights and innovation,” Atkinson said. “The presentations reflected strong analytics and actionable business solutions, and it was obvious that each team dedicated a lot of time and thought into the challenging problem statement. Congratulations to the DU faculty for organizing the event as it was exceptionally well done.”

For more information on the Inclusive Excellence Case Competition, visit daniels.du.edu/about/diversity/inclusive-excellence-case-competition/.

Please visit DU’s COVID-19 website and subscribe to @uofdenver Twitter for updates regarding COVID-19.

Please visit DU’s COVID-19 website and subscribe to @uofdenver Twitter for updates regarding COVID-19.