2010 Student Case Competition Winners Graduate Division
Eastern University

For the second year running, PhD students from Eastern University won the graduate division of the student case competition at ILA's annual global conference. The 2010 winning team was comprised of Mike Dominik, David Wolf, Julie Rood-Breithaupt, and David Ober. The case competition is organized each year by ILA's Leadership Education Member Interest Group and was sponsored last year by the Center for Leadership at Northwestern University.

The case used for this competition was Nandan Nilekani: From Infosys to Politics. In 2009 Nilekani was invited by Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to head the government's Unique Identification Authority of India project (UIDAI), which aims to provide an identity card to a billion citizens. That same year, TIME named Nilekani one of the 100 World's Most Influential People.

"The topic was relevant to modern society and really highlighted what political leadership is all about," said winning team member David Ober. "It also delved into the Asian realm in the context of economics."

Preparation for the case competition is grueling for students. The teams work on the case for a month before the conference. Then, a week before the competition, teams submit a brief that outlines their analysis of the leadership situation, answers several provided questions, and bullet-points recommendations.

On the first night of the conference, teams presented a poster of their case analysis to a panel of judges. The top three teams were then given more questions to answer and were required to attend conference sessions and incorporate material from research presentations into their case analyses.

This really increased the immersive experience of the conference for Case Competition participants. Since it was not possible for one person to see every single presentation, the winning team's strategy was to split up in order to maximize the information gleaned from the conference for use in the final presentation.

The top three teams then made a final formal presentation to the same panel of judges and a winning team was decided.

When asked about Eastern's secret to success, Ober emphatically replied, "Its students. The quality of Eastern's students and their ability to integrate leadership with academia has helped them do wonders." Ober encouraged those studying leadership to participate in this competition early in their doctoral experience, so they can more effectively use what they learn towards their studies.

The second and third runners up in the graduate division in 2010 were from the University of Phoenix and Indiana Wesleyan University.

David Ober, 2010 Graduate Division Winner team member, shares his thoughts about the case competition experience:

"Strong relationships were developed between teams during the competition. I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to listen to other presentations to further my knowledge regarding leadership studies."