For two years in a row, seniors at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business have won the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Pacific West Regional Case Competition, part of the organization's student conference held April 12-13 at UNLV.
In addition to the $2,500 in prize money, the students will receive complimentary registration to SHRM's annual conference in Chicago this June where they will be recognized as one of the five team winners from each region in the country. Their fees will also be covered when they take the SHRM national certification exam after graduation this semester.
Coached by Yvonne Stedham, professor of management, and Linda Barrenchea, instructor in the Department of Managerial Sciences, the winning team members are Tessa Duckett, Eduardo Iniguez, Kevin Kirkeby and Courtney Smith. They competed against eight other teams from the western United States.
Both Stedham and Barrenchea believe this year's success was due, in part, to the combination of traditional and older, non-traditional students on the team.
"We really had wide variety of experience on the team," Stedham said. "It was interesting for us as advisers to see the dynamics of this year's presentation. The team was very professional, very calm and they acted like a real consulting team making a proposal to get the contract from the interviewers. It was a pleasure for us to watch."
The competition was based upon a case given to each team from the hospitality industry. The student teams had four hours to analyze the case, prepare a two-page written executive summary describing their analysis and recommendations, and prepare a 15-minute oral PowerPoint presentation.
After presenting to a panel of judges which included human resource professionals, the top-two teams advanced to the final round and presented again in front of another panel of judges.
In preparation for the competition, the students had enrolled in a semester of independent study with Barrenchea which covered six SHRM certification modules: strategic human resource management, staffing and planning, training and development, compensation, labor relations, and safety and benefits.
"This class really prepares them for the competition and the certification exam," Barrenchea said. "It's a grueling semester. The students put in a lot of work including many hours in and out of the classroom. We had industry people come talk with them, and they had practice sessions for the competition. They showed a great deal of dedication and hard work, and it paid off beautifully."
According to Barrenchea, the students will graduate with a management degree, get their national certification and be equipped with the necessary tools and credentials for the human resources field.
"To actually have a team win again this year is really exciting," Barrenchea said. "It validates that we're doing the right things for the students, and we have the ability to help them be successful in this area. That's really rewarding as an instructor."
The students received funding from the local SHRM chapter, the SHRM State Council, Associated Students of the University of Nevada and the College of Business alumni chapter to cover the costs of the competition.