University of Southern Indiana

Technology Makes Not-for-Profit Business Case Competition Possible During the Pandemic

A team of students from the University of Southern Indiana competed in the 2021 Alberta Not-for-Profit Association Case Competition (ANPA), the only live Not-for-Profit case competition in Canada and the first interdisciplinary case competition. It was sponsored by the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. The USI team was one of 16 from business schools across the globe invited to compete in this dynamic and innovative initiative. 

Students representing USI were Alleigh Dillman, management major with a French minor; Alyssa Munday, management major with a human resources certification and a psychology minor; Mayson Riley, accounting and French studies; and Nicholas (Leo) Ziemer, accounting and finance. They were coached by Romain College of Business faculty member Jeanette Maier-Lytle, Instructor in Accounting.

ANFP Team at USI

This year’s competition was held virtually. Instead of travel delays and quickly adapting to a new environment, participants had different obstacles to overcome, such as Internet connectivity and time zones. “My team and I were able to persevere through conflicting schedules, Wi-Fi/Internet issues and successfully communicate while never meeting in person or knowing one another prior to this," said Riley. "The virtual environment was very casual when networking with other delegates which made it easier to relax before the case release later in the competition, and it still had a professional atmosphere when speaking with judges and business leaders.”

Technology made the competition possible, but Maier-Lytle agrees it created challenges. “Since the students aren't all in the same place, it is more difficult to evaluate their team cohesiveness,” she said. “With so many hours already on our computers, it was tough spending another hour during our scheduled practices.” However, she also thinks the unique experience gained by the students balances things out. “They have learned to consult in a virtual world, which is an experience you cannot gain in the classroom. I believe this provided a unique training that they otherwise would never have received. They will now be able to present from remote locations and better understand what it would be like to work in a virtual global environment.”

No matter the setting, students experience a wide range of emotions throughout case competitions–from feeling very stressed to the self-confidence that comes from a job well done–and they consistently rate it as a top college experience and one that prepares them for job interviews and their career after graduation. Riley has “nothing but great things to say” about being a team member. “The 24-hour case release was very stressful to say the least, but it was eye opening to know what my small team and I could do in a short period of time. The whole experience of practicing for a month leading up to the competition developed many necessary skills that will help me once I graduate. Speaking of graduation, experiencing this whole professional competition virtually I do feel more comfortable entering into the virtual work force come May, because I gained nontraditional skills of holding myself accountable, self-discipline and staying focused when I am working from the same room I sleep.”

The ANPA case competition gives students a unique opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to the financial reality of a not-for-profit organization and give back to the community in the process. This year’s not-for-profit organization was AIESEC, an organization that expanded to countries worldwide as a not-for-profit organization that aims to provide young people with leadership development, cross-cultural internships and global volunteer/exchange experiences, with the goal of empowering the next generation to make a progressive and significant social impact. The University of Melbourne placed first in this year’s competition.

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