Innovations That Inspire

University of Florida

University of Florida, Warrington College of Business

Category: Strengthening the Understanding of Effective Leadership Development

Location: Gainesville, Florida, United States
Accreditation Status: Business and Accounting

Innovation Title

P&G and UF Emerging Leaders Case Competition

Innovation Statement

A unique experiential learning initiative created in partnership with Procter & Gamble focuses on critical thinking and key leadership principles such as emotional intelligence, leading teams, and influence.

Call to Action

The Heavener School of Business, within the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, maintains a strong reputation for excellence in case competitions around the world, winning two prestigious international case competition events in 2017 alone. The P&G and UF Emerging Leaders Case Competition was designed to create an innovative, experiential learning initiative that combined the best elements of a high-stakes case competition with a number of core leadership principles taught in the curriculum.

Few academic exercises carry the practical significance of a well-designed case competition. Students are required to think critically about a complex issue and utilize many facets of the business curriculum to create a thoughtful solution that aligns with the issues presented in the case. Perhaps most importantly, students are then asked to present their ideas in an influential way to judges and executives. These experiences feel real to the students because they are real: real issues, real challenges, real feedback, and a real opportunity to showcase their intellectual acumen, poise, and professionalism.

The objective of the P&G and UF Emerging Leaders Case Competition was to bring this unique experiential learning opportunity to all students in the Heavener School of Business at the University of Florida. By 2019, all Heavener School students will have the opportunity to participate in at least three high-stakes case competitions as part of their curriculum.

Innovation Description

The P&G and UF Emerging Leaders Case Competition is embedded in a course on leadership. This class helps students apply leadership principles as they transition to their professional careers. The goal is simple: to provide students with a source code for how to both lead and follow in any environment, enabling them to become an invaluable “emergent leader” early in their career.

Topics covered by the course include emotional intelligence, transformational leadership, authenticity, leading teams, influence, and ethics.

The P&G and UF Emerging Leaders Case Competition allows students to put what they learn from class discussions into action. The competition was designed in partnership with Procter & Gamble, one of the Heavener School’s top recruiters. The case simulates a real challenge that a P&G team would be required to solve, and P&G executives serve as judges and mentors for the competition.

All teams receive detailed feedback on their performance, both in terms of the quality of the solutions they present as well as the quality of their team presentation. All students who do not advance to the final round of the competition are able to watch the final teams present as an additional learning opportunity.

When the competition is over, students write a Leadership in Action reflection paper focusing on their experiences with the competition in relation to leadership principles covered in the class. This assignment allows students to review how the many elements of the leadership course came into play during the competition, and assess what worked, what didn't, and what they would do differently in the future.

Impact

The P&G and UF Emerging Leaders Case Competition is a true partnership between Heavener students and one of the most impactful companies in the world.

For UF students, the competition is valuable on many dimensions:

  • It underscores the significance of critical thinking, team skills, and presentation skills as it relates to their future careers. Through the competition, they have a much better understanding of the expectations that top employers have for the talent they hire into their organizations.
  • The competition simulates a real-world challenge with time pressure, team dynamics, and an ambiguous solution.
  • Students are able to get essential feedback from executives, faculty, and student peers on their performance, which is a significant asset for their professional development.
  • Students have a unique opportunity to showcase their leadership, team, and critical thinking abilities directly in front of one of the school’s top recruiting firms.

For Procter & Gamble, the competition gives them an innovative way to assess elite talent from a top-10 public university. P&G executives are on site during the three-day competition and are able to meet with students, provide them with feedback, and potentially connect them to the P&G recruiting process.

The competition also showcases the P&G brand to a large number of UF students and provides students with a real “day in the life” lens into P&G careers, which should help strengthen P&G's reputation with students and lead to an increase in interest in career opportunities.