Photo: Molly Koernke
Molly Koernke
Class of 2010
Concentrations:  Marketing

Michigan State’s MBA orientation started the year off with a bang. The class of 2010 was the first to experience a case competition during orientation week. The demanding yet rewarding case competition required us to analyze the merger between Sears and Kmart. It challenged first-year Broad students to immediately interact with their teammates and utilize their individual talents for the greater good of the team. I had to trust my teammates and stay positive. The Vice President of Finance from Sears Holding Corporation sat in as a judge for the event which significantly added to the challenge of the competition. I had limited knowledge of how to prepare for the competition or the criteria used to judge the presentation of a case. A second-year Broad student advised me that the ability to effectively present your recommendation is just as important as the information you present; therefore, I heavily relied on the strength of my communication skills throughout the competition.

Presenting to the entire student body in the competition finals will always be the most memorable part of orientation week. My team took a risk by presenting a creative case recommendation to the judges. In order to increase the effectiveness of the merger between Sears and Kmart, my team suggested to eliminate the Kmart name and to more aggressively target female consumers. We decided that one way to effectively target females was to launch an affordable luxury line similar to the Isaac Mizrahi line at Target. Sears is known for its typically male-oriented products, so my team decided to focus on engaging a new consumer base. My team sought to tap into sub-cultures, detect epidemics and hopefully, put Sears at the forefront of trends. The strong dynamics of my team and equal participation from all also contributed to my team’s successful finish.

I am beyond excited for what is ahead of me over the next two years at Broad. I am lucky to be surrounded by a group of extremely diverse and talented individuals. Orientation offered a great opportunity to commence working with my classmates as well as an exciting way to start the process of becoming a top-notch leader.