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Walton MBA Team Competes in SEC MBA Case Competition

A team of four M.B.A. students from the Sam M. Walton College Business competed in the 4th Southeastern Conference MBA Case Competition held April 7-9, 2016, on the University of Arkansas campus.

Walton SEC MBA 2016
MBA students (l-r) Haley Cleous, Phil Keil, Ash Ganapathiraju and Clinton Rhodes represented the Sam M. Walton College of Business during the 4th Southeastern Conference MBA Case Competition held April 7-9, 2016, at the University of Arkansas. [photo credit: Jim Bailey]
The Walton team of Haley Cleous, Phil Keil, Ash Ganapathiraju and Clinton Rhodes had 24 hours to create a business plan to a case presented by Henkel Corp., a multinational company that produces consumer and industrial products and whose executives served as judges of the competition.

All 14 SEC universities participated in the event with the University of Alabama bringing home the top prize. The University of Florida placed second, Texas A&M University third and Mississippi State University fourth.

“I was impressed by the caliber of the students who represented the University of Arkansas and the SEC,” said Matthew A. Waller, interim dean of the Walton College. “All of the M.B.A. teams presented quality solutions to a leading international company’s business challenge. Each member of the 14 teams reflects the outstanding business sophistication and talent we have in the SEC.”

Other awards given during the divisional rounds included Best Presenter and Best Q&A.

SEC MBA 2016
MBA teams representing 14 SEC universities were on hand April 7-9, 2016, to compete in the 4th SEC MBA Case Competition. The Walton College at the University of Arkansas served as host for the event. [photo credit: Stacy Allred]
Sarah Gardener from Louisiana State University, Katie Lamberth from the University of Alabama, Lillian Niakan from Texas A&M University and Kate O’Hara from the University of Florida were named Best Presenters for their divisions.

The Best Q&A Awards were earned by Abhinav Bhattacharya from the University of Alabama, Sarah Crook from the University of Tennessee, Kendall Daniel from Texas A&M University and Carew Ferguson from Mississippi State University.

This marks the fourth year for the SEC MBA Case Competition, which provides an opportunity for SEC business schools to showcase their students’ skills at solving simulated, real-world problems that cover the spectrum of business disciplines. The 2017 SEC MBA Case Competition will be held at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

A complete list of winners from the 2016 competition is available at

About SECU
The Southeastern Conference sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its fourteen member universities. The goals of the SECU academic initiative include highlighting the endeavors and achievements of SEC faculty and universities; advancing the merit and reputation of SEC universities outside of the traditional SEC region; identifying and preparing future leaders for high-level service in academia; increasing the amount and type of education abroad opportunities available to SEC students; and providing opportunities for collaboration among SEC university personnel. To connect with SECU online –; on Facebook – TheSECU; on Twitter – @TheSECU; on Instagram – @TheSECUniversity; and on YouTube – SECUniversity.

Walton College to Host 4th SEC MBA Case Competition

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas will host the 4th Southeastern Conference MBA Case Competition April 7-9, 2016, with 14 SEC universities participating.

Teams of four graduate students will present a business plan regarding a real problem faced by Henkel Corporation, which will also provide executives to serve as judges. Within a specific time restriction, the teams will analyze the problem, develop a solution and present their findings.

SEC University

“Walton College is proud to host this premier competition,” said Marion Dunagan, Walton College assistant dean, Graduate Programs. “The business plan competition highlights the outstanding talent we have in the Southeastern Conference and our significant contributions to the business world locally, nationally and globally.”

Competing teams will represent graduate business colleges from the University of Alabama, University of Arkansas, Auburn University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University, University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, University of Missouri, University of South Carolina, University of Tennessee, Texas A&M University and Vanderbilt University.

The University of Florida took first place in the 2015 SEC MBA Case Competition held at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

Henkel, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, is known for brands such as Persil, Schwarzkopf and Loctite. Henkel North America produces brands such as Dial soaps, Purex laundry detergents, Right Guard deodorants, göt2b hair styling products and Loctite adhesives.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Retail Supply Chain Management Summer Camp Available to High School Students

The Supply Chain Management Research Center and the Center for Retailing Excellence at the Sam M. Walton College of Business are hosting the Retail Supply Chain Management Summer Camp July 17-20, 2016, on the University of Arkansas campus. The program is a residential summer camp for high school students entering the 11th and 12th grades in fall 2016.

The 4-day camp will introduce students to supply chain management, logistics, retailer and supplier-related industries topics. Campers will tour nearby companies, hear from industry leaders, learn from Walton College faculty and present solutions to a business case study.

The camp is limited to 25 students. The cost is $650 per camper. Applications must be received no later than May 20. A limited number of need-based scholarships may be available.

For more information or to apply, visit

Summer Student Internships: Starships, Robots and Research

The Sam M. Walton College of Business is seeking student summer interns to assist with a robotics research project that will require travel in Fayetteville and on the East Coast from May through August.

Walton College is seeking student interns to test Starship, a ground delivery robot.

Known as Starship, the robot is a self-driving drone, which delivers packages and/or groceries. Created by Starship Technologies, the robotic ground delivery service will require two to three operators and handlers to oversee the delivery process and monitor the success of the project.

A representative from Starship Technologies, an Estonia-based technology company, will be on campus in the coming weeks to discuss the testing project and to conduct internship interviews.

All students interested in learning more about the Walton College internship should email Sue Sedberry, managing director of the Innovations Lab, Center for Retailing Excellence, at no later than Friday, March 18.

All University of Arkansas students are invited to apply.

Faculty: Best of the Best

Congratulations to the following faculty selected by the Sam M. Walton College of Business Awards and Elections Committee for the following college awards:

Award Winning Faculty

Gary Peters

Gary Peters
Outstanding All-Around Faculty Award


Robin Soster
Excellence in Teaching Award


Tomas Jandik
MBA Teacher of the Year


Simone Peinkofer
Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award


Jeff Mullins
Outstanding Adjunct Teacher Award


Viswanath Venkatesh
Excellence in Research Award


David Douglas
Excellence in Service Award


Amy Farmer
Excellence in Diversity Award


Office of Diversity and Inclusion Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Serving Those in Need

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Zeta Phi Beta sorority collected and donated 500 bags filled with travel-size toiletries and more than 50 suitcases for the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Walton College students and faculty assembled bags of toiletries to donate to a nearby children's shelter.
Walton College students and faculty assembled bags of toiletries to donate to a nearby children’s shelter. [Photo: Ryan C. Versey]
Walton College students, staff and faculty answered the call in February when the Office of Diversity and Inclusion requested donations to assist young people in need. Students and staff helped to assemble the bags during an open house style work session.

The shelter’s mission is to provide a safe haven, hope and high quality care for children who have been abandon, abused and neglected. Learn more about the shelter at

The Walton College is committed to increasing students’ awareness of diversity and increasing the extent to which they value its significance. The Office of Diversity & Inclusion was developed in 1994 to support, advocate and assist the Walton College in developing plans for diversity throughout the college. Learn more at

Cassandra Davis — Ph.D. Candidate — Marketing

Cassandra Davis, marketing Ph.D. candidate at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, is passionate about inspiring future generations of minority academics. Aligned with the Ph.D. project, a non-profit organization with the goal of increasing diversity in business leadership, Cassandra describes herself “as a person who is both African-American and a low-income, first-generation college student.” Cassandra proudly displays leadership for under-represented students as an “educator, mentor, role model and ally.” Once she completes her degree, Cassandra aspires to be a professor at a research university where she can continue to be a driving force in recruiting and retaining more minority students.

Cassandra brings an interesting perspective to her studies and teaching responsibilities in the marketing department. As a former territory sales representative in the tobacco industry, Cassandra learned “first-hand how public policy and shifting cultural and ethical boundaries affect marketing.” She has used her background as a foundation for her research, with a goal of impacting her community, government institutions, and public policy.

“I am motivated by the fact that the research I engage in is personally and socially relevant.”

Cassandra also shows her commitment to social issues in her personal life. Recently she read a book on minimalism and started the process of downsizing her possessions. In her leisure time she enjoys taking long walks, reading and traveling. She is especially fond of the time she spent in Lyon, France, studying and exploring the region, soaking up the language and beauty.

Cassandra advises potential doctoral candidates to “start with the end in mind.”

They should “make sure they can envision their future after receiving their diploma” and ask themselves:

“What kind of job do you want to have (university position or industry)? If an academic career is your goal, what kind of institution do you see yourself joining? What kind of research do you want to pursue? What location do you want to live in? It is my belief that answering questions about your future will help you decide if a Ph.D. is right for you and help you figure out which Ph.D. programs meet your needs.”


“I have learned to look at problems and opportunities holistically, using a range of analytical frameworks and tools. The Walton MBA has provided me with a sophisticated lens to look at and makes sense of business issues.”

Thato was born in Gaborone, Botswana; however, he attended a boarding school in South Africa for five years. His interest in community outreach and global affairs fueled his desire to work with both for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Thato_Masire_MBA_profile“My interest in global affairs was enhanced after studying abroad in Norway. I was selected to be a Peace Scholar by the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. Through the Peace Scholars program, I was able to engage my interest at a deeper level academically and practically.”

Prior to graduate school, he worked in Washington, D.C., as a project assistant for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs supporting the Southern & East African teams. Thato also gained valuable experience when he worked for Safdico, South African Diamond Corporation, in Botswana. In his position as a project coordinator, he spearheaded various initiatives in the executive office such as developing a comprehensive handbook for clients and producing various communication templates.

Thato is passionate about his future and he has invested time into his academic career to help propel his future success.

“My dream job is one that leverages my skills and capabilities, while still providing me with an opportunity to develop further. My dream job should be enriching, challenging and give me a purpose.”

Thato is a 2015 graduate of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the Walton MBA program. He specifically chose the Walton College because of its flexibility and adaptability to work with his MPS degree.

“The Walton MBA program allows for a concurrent degree with the Clinton School and it is the premier MBA program in the state of Arkansas.”

He says the classes he has taken have provided him with the resources he needs to succeed.

“Both programs have provided me with an opportunity to further develop transferable skills, namely in communications, critical thinking and problem-solving, which I use every day in my career.”

He mentions one course specifically, Strategic Management. He finds the blending of theory and real world examples intriguing. This makes for a fun learning environment.

“I have developed a deep appreciation of the pivotal role strategy plays in business. Additionally, I have found strategicmanagement to be very interesting as every day on the news there is a strategy-related story that I can tie back to class theory/discussions.”

By continually challenging yourself and expanding your comfort zone, Thato says, “You’ll profit immensely.”


Tai Crater decided to knock on the Sam M. Walton College of Business door again after she earned her bachelor’s degree in Finance 12 years ago. This time, she wanted to earn her Executive MBA degree. Realizing that the program was convenient to her work demands and current lifestyle, with both online and once-a-month attendance she became a student again.

Tai Crater “I did some research and very quickly determined that I wanted to get my Executive MBA from my undergraduate institution. The Walton EMBA program is a highly regarded program with excellent credentials. In addition, based on my undergraduate experience, I knew the program would be challenging, the faculty would be exceptional, and that I would have all the resources I needed to be successful… the rest was up to me!”

Tai has lived in Arkansas her entire life. While growing up, she resided in Little Rock and El Dorado, but she now calls Northwest Arkansas her home. She is grateful to her parents for encouraging her, as well as her two sisters, to dream big and teaching her that she could be anything she wanted to be as long as she was willing to work hard for it.

“In my work, I want to accomplish a million things. Mostly, I want to be a good manager and help others achieve their career goals. However, I also want to become a chief officer of a Fortune 500 company. I truly believe I can do it so I’ve set my sights on it for now!”

Tai started working for Tyson in December 2002 as a financial analyst, and she was promoted to the position of cash manager in July 2005. Since October 2009, she has been working as the director of risk finance and insurance. She manages all of the financial aspects associated with the company’s property and casualty insurance. Her team, which serves as the liaison between all departments, is responsible for effectively managing the company’s total cost of risk.

Tai CraterAlthough Tai admits that her social life has seen a decrease in activity since she started EMBA program, she is fully aware of the tradeoff.

“This is a two year program that will push you to work harder than you have in long time. I tell myself a few things: (1) it’s only temporary (2) if someone else can complete this program while working in a demanding position, then so can I and (3) it’s worth it!”

Despite the hard work, there are several perks to being a student at the EMBA program. By participating in courses delivered by distinguished faculty she has already improved her listening skills, increased her motivation to learning and face new challenges.

“The EMBA program almost immediately improved my confidence level across all aspects of business. I have been able to take what I’ve learned and apply it to my work and, at times, my personal life, very quickly. My understanding of the different aspects of business has significantly improved since the day I started the program. In addition, the program includes students with such diverse experiences. The opportunity to go through the program with this intelligent group of people with varied backgrounds has been very beneficial.”