Spring Forward Series: Case Competition Spotlight – 2014 CoMIS

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April 24, 2014 by Lainey

This Spring, Carson Jones, Dylan Warnock, and PCA Elaine Cen represented The University of Austin and McCombs at the third annual international Competition on Management Information Systems (CoMIS) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Despite the freezing winds and trudging through 11 inches of snow, the team presented a solid case presentation at the Carlson School of Management to compete against 10 other universities from around the nation.

CoMIS Team 2014 UT Austin

From Left to Right: Dylan Warnock (CS, MIS Minor), Elaine Cen (MIS), and Carson Jones (MIS)

The competition was organized by a committee of students from The University of Minnesota. Over the course of four days and nights, participants engage in networking dinners, socials, planning events, and company visits. The eight sponsors included 3M, Target, General Mills, Medtronic, UnitedHealth Group, MIS Quarterly, Travelers, and BlueCross BlueShield.

What was the competition like?

“We had some socials and networking dinners before we jumped into our 24 hour STRAIGHT deliberation period. Just picture it: 24 hours, locked in a hotel room, with WiFi and sleeping schedules diligently monitored by CoMIS staff. We had no contact with our industry mentors nor our coach for the entire time until we presented at 8:40 am the next morning. After we had all presented our cases, a feeling of camaraderie fell over us all as we watched Mulan and other Disney movies while we waited for the bus to come take us back home. We had our last dinner with several industry members, including a vice president of UnitedHealth Group. It was a very sad experience to have to leave – the cold never bothered me (that much) anyway!” – Elaine Cen

What were your favorite experiences?

“The whole competition experience was very exciting. I made several new acquaintances and friends from the competition – one of them was a computer science/supply chain double major from The University of Arizona who’d already created her own video game, and I can say that I was duly inspired by her and everyone else that I met. On our time off before the deliberation phase started, some competitors and me rode on roller-coasters at the Mall of America and bought souvenirs for the people back at our universities! And don’t underestimate the Spongebob ride – it had me in tears from the 90 degree drop from the get go. What was also nice was that UT sponsored the entire trip, so I had time to think about networking and preparing for the competition instead of my finances.” – Elaine Cen

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to participate in a major-specific national case competition?

“If you have any prior case knowledge, use it or at least find someone who does who you can learn from! When you’re tossed into a situation where you have no external help to guide you on how to research the case, things can get difficult and stressful. Also, never be afraid of playing devil’s advocate – this means being brave enough to tell your teammates that you don’t like their idea for reason X, Y, and Z. Your case solution will be all the better for it since you’re already finding the holes in your logic. Finally, pay attention in class and keep up with current trends in your area of expertise! It helps to have a general understanding of how finance, marketing, technology, and supply chain come together to tell a cohesive, convincing case story.” – Elaine Cen

Any parting words?

Dylan Warnock: “K-Gray [Katie Grey] is a boss.”

Elaine Cen: “Yes, our coach, Katie Grey, and our industry mentors were so awesome and supportive. We had AJ Angus from Google, Phil Leary from Pariveda Solutions, and Tina Beamer from 3M helping us out in the months coming up to the competition. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”


For more information and rules about participation, check out the CoMIS website at http://comismn.org/. If you’re interested in going, the UT MIS department is in the works of putting together a local case competition to select next year’s CoMIS UT Austin representatives – be sure to keep a look out! As always, come check out the BBA Career Services in CBA 2.116 to check out books about case competitions or ask general career-related questions!

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