Business Students Pitch Northeastern to Victory

From left, Joe Haniak, Jake Wainwright, Madeline Lutkewitte, and Jed Baker, who won first place in the undergraduate competition at the Wake Forest University Marketing Summit last weekend. Contributed photo

It may be time to start using the word “dynasty” when describing the suc­cess of North­eastern University’s Hunt­ington Man­age­ment Con­sulting group, which won the under­grad­uate case com­pe­ti­tion at Wake Forest University’s Mar­keting Summit last weekend.

The first place finish by the North­eastern team—consisting of Jake Wain­wright, DMSB’14, Joe Haniak, DMSB’14, Jed Baker, DMSB’14, and Made­line Lutke­witte, DMSB’14—is the university’s second vic­tory at the Mar­keting Summit in the last four years; last year, North­eastern placed second.

Eleven schools par­tic­i­pated in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, five of which com­peted at the under­grad­uate level against North­eastern including Wake Forest Uni­ver­sity, the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­vania, and the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­fornia, Berkeley.

“I’d take my under­grads against a grad­uate team any day,” said Ray­mond Kin­nunen, club adviser and asso­ciate pro­fessor of Inter­na­tional Busi­ness and Strategy in the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness. “We work hard at it and we go there to win.”

Hunt­ington Man­age­ment Con­sulting is an under­grad­uate club com­prising North­eastern busi­ness stu­dents who gain real-​​world expe­ri­ence through inter­col­le­giate case com­pe­ti­tions, in which they rou­tinely place among the country’s top busi­ness schools. To prac­tice for these com­pe­ti­tions, stu­dents often work with the entre­pre­neurs of alumni ven­tures, who pro­vide free analysis and con­sul­ta­tion in exchange for the oppor­tu­nity to hone their skills.

At this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, teams pitched a mar­keting pro­posal to Cheer­wine, a family-​​owned soft drink com­pany in North Car­olina. The pur­pose of the plan was to help the com­pany expand dis­tri­b­u­tion across the United States.

Teams had 36 hours to pre­pare their pro­posals, which con­sist of ana­lyzing the problem, answering ques­tions, and coming up with cre­ative solu­tions to the problem, explained Lutke­witte, who com­peted in her fifth case com­pe­ti­tion but couldn’t dis­cuss the details due to a con­fi­den­tiality agreement.

The North­eastern team learned the case’s specifics on Thursday night and met with Cheerwine’s senior vice pres­i­dent of sales and oper­a­tions. Teams then had to present a solu­tion to Cheer­wine rep­re­sen­ta­tives and a panel of judges Sat­urday afternoon.

“We slept for about three or four hours Thursday night and 45 min­utes Friday night,” Lutke­witte said.

The group started preparing for the com­pe­ti­tion during the first week of Jan­uary with weekend prac­tice runs orga­nized by Kin­nunen, who goes by Coach K. He would give the stu­dents a case on Sat­urday morn­ings and by Sunday they would have to present a solu­tion to other North­eastern pro­fes­sors or Hunt­ington Man­age­ment Con­sulting alumni.

“I’ve been doing this for a while, so the pre­sen­ta­tion skills I have gained by reg­u­larly pre­senting to judges who are alumni of the club or pro­fes­sors has taught me how to step up my game,” Lutke­witte explained. “It’s real world experience.”