UHV NewsWire
Contact:  Staci Semrad, Special to UHV

MBA students formulate winning strategies for graduate business competition


UHV MBA students Katiana R. Chapa, Anahi Quezeda, Ipek Kose and Jorge E. Duenas in an online meeting
UHV College of Business students, clockwise from left, Katiana Chapa of Rosenberg, Anahí Quezada of Katy, Jorge Duenas of Katy and Ipek Kose of Houston participate in a Microsoft Teams meeting Saturday during the 28th Master of Business Administration Case Conference. The team members won first place for their analysis of Brinker International Inc.

A team of University of Houston-Victoria students tapped into their personal knowledge of young adult behavior to formulate a winning strategy to rank first place Saturday in the 28th UHV College of Business Master of Business Administration Case Conference.

The students have been taking the capstone course for UHV’s MBA program, “Seminar in Strategic Management,” which requires students to spend a semester analyzing a company both individually and on teams. This semester, that company was Brinker International Inc., a Dallas-based company that owns Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy.

“We were checking out their social media pages and noticed they do not post much,” said Katiana Chapa of Rosenberg. “So, we talked about it and came up with a strategy for reducing costs. We wanted to figure out how we could really impact the company.”

Chapa was among 75 graduate business students on 18 teams who competed in the competition, which was held virtually. They presented their findings before a panel of judges made up of UHV faculty, alumni and business leaders.

Chapa’s team determined that developing a more robust social media marketing plan would be a cost-effective way to broaden Brinker’s market and boost sales revenue, particularly among the millennials and Generation Z demographic groups. Her team won first place for their presentation. Other members of the first-place team were Jorge Duenas and Anahí Quezada of Katy, and Ipek Kose of Houston.

The team members drew from their coursework in analyzing the company’s strengths and weaknesses and formulated a plan to remedy issues facing the company, Quezada said. Their coursework first involved considerable analyses done individually, as reflected in summaries turned in to their professors that spanned 60 to 80 pages.

“It was intense,” she said.

They then met as a group and formulated a 150-page master analysis.

“That was helpful because all of us had such different perspectives,” Quezada said. “It made us have a better understanding of the company and get more financial data, which enabled us to analyze the company more thoroughly.”

Peggy Cloninger

The team had a winning idea and a winning presentation, said Peggy Cloninger, a UHV professor of management who taught the team. Cloninger also taught the third-place team.

“Based upon thorough research, they developed a well-thought-out plan to use social media to increase Brinker’s customer base and increase profits,” Cloninger said. “The judges also commented that they had excellent presentation skills. I’m very proud of them and the other teams.”

Quezada credited Cloninger for her dedication to students.

“Our professor was so helpful all semester and so willing to assist us with anything we needed,” Quezada said. “She definitely played a huge part in our success as well.”

Shengsheng “Charlie” Huang, a UHV associate professor of management, taught the team that took second place.

  • Second Place – Vicki Cerna-Bell of Sugar Land, Stevanne Horton of Cypress, Tracy Mejia of Stafford and Hector Zubieta of New Braunfels.
  • Third Place – Irene Chabot of Victoria, Yolanda Flores of Rockdale and Riya Monteiro of Houston.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region, offers courses leading to more than 65 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Education & Human Development, and Nursing. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus as well as teaching sites in Fort Bend and Harris counties, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. Since its founding in 1973, UHV has provided students with a quality university education from excellent faculty at an affordable price.

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