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Usha Venkataramanan
Kelley Direct

Anne Auer
Kelley School of Business

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Student in Kelley Direct online MBA program finishes second in prestigious case competition

May 31, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A Kelley Direct MBA student from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business finished second in the 2006 Cadillac National Case Competition held May 25 in Detroit, MI. The event, now in its third year, was organized by Edventure Partners and was sponsored by Cadillac and its advertising agency, Leo Burnett.

Floyd Newsum, 30, is a second-year MBA student in the Kelley Direct program. He is believed to be the first online MBA student to make it this far in a national case competition, which is considered an increasingly crucial aspect of the MBA experience.

Even more impressive is that Newsum entered the competition as an "independent" registrant without faculty support. The other MBA team in the final round, from the University of New Mexico, has two faculty mentors and six team members. The competition was open to both part-time and full-time business students around the country and consisted of separate categories for undergraduate and MBA-level competitors. About 145 entries were submitted, including MBA entries from institutions such as UCLA and Purdue University.

"This is the first case study competition that I've ever entered," Newsum said. "I was very curious to see how I would fare against the other schools."

For his Cadillac Case Competition entry, Newsum created a marketing plan based on research he conducted about the attitudes of African Americans toward Cadillacs and the Escalade sport utility vehicle. According to the data he gathered, name recognition for the Escalade was high among African Americans, but not as high for other Cadillac vehicles.

"I had a natural affinity in researching my own ethnic group," Newsum said. "What I found in conducting my research is that the Escalade is well known in African American communities, but Cadillac can do better by exposing African Americans to other luxury Cadillac vehicles. There were significantly low levels of recognition for five of the six product lines we were asked to research."

Newsum said his entry and success in the competition signals that distinctions between the various types of MBA programs are beginning to fade.

"Online business education is entering the same kind of phase as residential education," Newsum said. "There's a blending of distance education and residential activities. It's immaterial where you physically are. What's most important is the quality of the institution and its faculty. The Kelley School has demonstrated consistent high quality across its three modes of delivery -- residential full-time, residential part-time and distance/online."

"Online education has come a long way in preparing students for careers in business," agreed Usha Venkataramanan, associate director of student and alumni affairs at Kelley Direct. "Case study competitions like this one provide online students several opportunities to network with business professionals and peers. It also allows them to benchmark themselves against diverse populations coming from varied kinds of graduate programs."

Last Thursday's round of judging took the form of a formal presentation. Newsum, along with the University of New Mexico MBA team, and two undergraduate teams were flown to Detroit, to present to top executives from Cadillac, Leo Burnett and EdVenture Partners.

For more information on the Cadillac National Case Study Competition and EdVenture Partner case study events, visit and