In 2020, the Extreme Green: Broad vs. Broad case competition returned after a five-year hiatus, and this year the competition was held in a virtual format on March 3–5. This competition offers first-year Full-Time MBA students a chance to test the skills they’ve garnered from both their education and real-world experience on a cutting-edge business problem.

Business cases often focus on technical business problems such as valuation, supply chain processes, negotiating deals or consulting pitches. This year’s Broad vs. Broad event shifted gears to focus on human capital and the people who help make these business processes run. Specifically, the event tasked students with looking at how DEI initiatives and business ethics can influence company culture.

“When we chose Google, we wanted to look at how a large company can keep its unique culture while also trying to suppress any dissention from their mission,” William Horton-Anderson, assistant director of the Full-Time MBA program and organizer of the event, said.

“The case certainly provided a rigorous and robust challenge to students over the two-and-a-half-day event,” Jeff Hittler, faculty lead for the event, said. “We wanted [the students] to not only apply their skills, learning and critical thinking at this point in their first year of the FTMBA program but to consider their own individual leadership development with a focus on DEI.”

Zoom screenshot of Broad Full-Time MBA students who won Broad vs. Broad 2021 case competition.

Big Team 4, the 2021 Broad vs. Broad winning team, celebrates their victory.

This case highlighted the challenges Google has faced over the last five years regarding hiring practices, business decisions and culture. Google has since addressed many of these issues and modified company policy, making great strides to advance DEI hiring and employee culture.

The teams of students were assigned to take on the role of a consultant to evaluate the tech giant’s history and current state and to deliver recommendations of their own to further advance the Fortune 11 company.

Matthew Anderson, senior advisor to the dean for diversity and inclusion and associate professor of accounting and information systems, provided a personal discussion of his own experiences and the connections to DEI initiatives in today’s work environment during a workshop to open the event and set the stage for students’ case analysis efforts.

In addition, Hittler provided discussion in the workshop on how to approach a case analysis and prepare a solution, after which students worked for about 36 hours to develop a presentation and executive summary to deliver on the final day.

“Broad vs. Broad replicated the competitive workplace environment. Business professionals understand the lack of time and certainty surrounding business situations,” Jordan Marks, a member of the winning team, said. “Extreme Green gave us the opportunity to test ourselves and our team’s cohesion in a fast-paced situation.”

The competition included 12 teams, organized within Zoom breakout rooms for their presentations. In addition, a panel of Full-Time MBA alumni judges — from companies including Eden Housing, Nike, Apple, Jaguar Land Rover of North America, Google, Amgen, Inc., Facebook, Wells Fargo, SAS and McKesson — deliberated to select the top three finalists and, ultimately, the single winning team.

Alongside Marks, William Andary, Aditya Deshmukh, Louise DuRussel and Andrew Laux made up the winning team this year. Their strong collaboration and creative application of what they have learned throughout the MBA program led them to success.

“Broad vs. Broad is full of teams composed of smart, hard-working individuals who cannot be overestimated, and mere ambition would have been exhausting and insufficient against such high-performing teams,” Deshmukh said. “The difficulty of the competition, a case that resonated with us and the perseverance to see it through makes our win that much more worthwhile and memorable for the extended family we lovingly call Big Team 4.”

Every participating team was given the opportunity to receive applicable feedback directly from the judges, who provided market insight from a variety of industries along with their expertise. What the students learned throughout this competition will undoubtedly have a lasting impact as they continue in their careers as business professionals.

“Overall, I believe we’re at a point in the business world where leaders are starting to understand the importance of individual experiences, life stories and varying identities,” Horton-Anderson said. “All of these, paired with appropriate and timely policies and actions, can help a business maintain its stature and continue attracting top-quality candidates and ventures.”

Hittler added, “We believe the experience will benefit them not only now but going forward in their summer internships and future careers as leaders within organizations.”