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Business majors take second at national competition

UMW business majors accept case study competition award.Four University of Montana Western business majors earned second place in a national case-study business competition in Orlando, Fla. held from April 16 to April 19, 2013.

The competition was part of the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) Annual Conference and featured teams from undergraduate and graduate colleges across the country. The University of Montana Western Business Department is accredited through IACBE.

The Montana Western team consisted of J.C. Isakson, a business administration major from Augusta, Mont.; Anthony Matosich, a business administration major from Carlin, Nev.; Chelan Taylor, a business administration major from Friday Harbor, Wash.; and Linda Sieverkropp, a business administration major from Ephrata, Wash. Montana Western business professor Fredrick Chilson was the team’s faculty advisor. The four students are also members of the UMW Business Club.

Competing teams were charged with picking a business case study and researching the legal, financial, economic, marketing, management and ethical implications of the chosen issue. Teams then presented their case studies in the first round of the IACBE competition.

In February 2013, the Montana Western team chose the Keystone Pipeline as their case study. The students chose Keystone due to the implications the oil pipeline poses to Montana; the Keystone pipeline is slated to run through a part of eastern Montana.

“We chose it because it gave us more backing and passion when we were talking to the judges,” Isakson explained.

Over the next two months, the students studied the economic and environmental implications involved with Keystone, ultimately coming to the conclusion that they supported the pipeline because it would bring significant growth to Montana’s economy. However, the team did not support the route as proposed due to environmental implications.

The Montana Western students were the last to pitch their proposal to the judges in the first round of the competition. Despite the judges’ fatigue, the team’s proposal was a resounding success.

“The business program at Montana Western emphasizes presentations and communication skills,” Isakson said. “It really showed down there. We were well-oiled when it came to addressing a crowd and giving a solid presentation.”

“Our connection with the topic and how it related to us and affected us really brought energy to our presentation,” Isakson said. “We received very few negative remarks and really blew them away with our prepared case.”

The Montana Western team was one of three to advance to the final round in which the teams were given a case study and three hours to put together a proposal for a new set of judges. For the case study, the teams had to consider the current economic and social climate of marijuana legalization from the perspective of a business considering whether or not to enter the marijuana market in a state with legal marijuana.

The UMW team researched the business potential as well as social analysis on American attitudes toward marijuana. The team concluded there was a burgeoning market and a growing trend of support for marijuana legalization. However, they ultimately concluded the market was not yet stable enough to justify a business investment.

Isakson said the team’s second-place victory was due in large part to experiential learning gained at Montana Western.

“The business program at Montana Western emphasizes presentations and communication skills,” Isakson said. “It really showed down there. We were well-oiled when it came to addressing a crowd and giving a solid presentation.”

Isakson said the experience also gave the students added confidence as well as the opportunity to network with students and business leaders from across the country.

“I exchanged e-mails with a founder and C.E.O. of a company and am currently in employment negotiations with them,” Isakson added. “It was a really exciting and positive experience. The next big entrepreneur could have been in those rooms with us. It was a great opportunity to expand in that work and grow professionally.”

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