TVA logoA team of UAB Collat School of Business students used quick thinking and teamwork to win big at the TVA Financial Services Case Competition this month.

The team – Graysen Thompson, Daniel Massie, Harrison Turner and Tristan King – placed second in the competition, winning $2,500 in scholarship funds. Another UAB team also participated in the competition.

“The ability to show out for UAB's student body, specifically students of the Collat School of Business, is not something to take lightly,” said Thompson, a finance major who served as the team’s leader. “Every win for UAB is a win for the students as employers and businesses take note of our success. Of course, the most impressive wins are the ones that are the most difficult. Eleven very prestigious schools competed this year.”

The virtual two-day competition posed a challenge currently facing the Tennessee Valley Authority and other utility providers to teams of undergraduate and graduate students. The student teams then presented how they would solve the thorny issue.

This year’s case simulation challenged the UAB team to find a way to update three buildings on a college campus in the most energy-efficient and cost-effective way and then to promote the changes through a social media campaign.

“Sustainability is the future of the world. Finding ways to cost-efficiently transition into this ever-evolving industry will be daunting for most companies,” Thompson said. “Those that stay ahead of the curve will be the ones to survive. Every business should be looking towards the future of sustainability with hope. Solar, wind, and hydropower are becoming more efficient by the day. I hope to see most companies implement these renewable, reusable, and recyclable forms of energy.”

The students presented their findings during a Q&A session with a board of judges. Each team member also participated in speed interviews with TVA employees aimed at developing students’ soft skills. Each team was assigned a TVA coach – a current TVA employee – to work through the case study and the presentation.

Thompson said the biggest takeaway from the competition was the ability to think through solutions and questions quickly, which will benefit team members in the long term as they go out into the workforce.

“Life moves fast, your brain has to comprehend that and think even faster,” Thompson said. “Short notice tasks with a high priority are something every student should be preparing to complete once they graduate. Working as a team to complete goals in a timely manner is one of the most valuable skills a student can develop.”

This is UAB’s second year competing in the TVA case competition, according to Andreia Stechmann, assistant director of employer engagement at the Collat Career Center.

The Collat Career Center has built a strong strategic partnership with TVA over the years. TVA attends Collat career fairs, hosts virtual chats for students, welcomes students to tour its Chattanooga headquarters, among other activities. 

Collat Career Center Director Rita Stewart-Hampton first observed the case competition in Huntsville in 2019.

“We were thrilled to be invited back to compete for the second year and extremely proud of both teams for representing UAB so well. We understand the amount of work and dedication that goes into competing at a competition of this caliber, and we are so proud of our Blazers for showcasing how our students can compete on a big stage,” Stechmann said.

Daniel Sanabria, Collat’s faculty advisor to the case competition teams, echoed the sentiment.

“It's not every day that college students get to compete in teams on a collaborative problem to solve,” he said. “These types of competitions are highly regarded by future employers, as they provide as close to real-life activities as the students may undergo in their professional careers. The experience the team gained from the case competition was invaluable. It will also help them differentiate themselves from other candidates during the interview process as they look for internships and jobs for the future.”

Thompson encouraged any business students interested in competing or participating in similar activities to go for it.

“Find students that are just as, if not more, driven than you to be successful,” Thompson said. “You have no idea how many opportunities your peers and the events you join will open for you.”