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EAST LANSING, MI -- The Michigan State University (MSU) Case Study Team took first place at this year's International Food and Agribusiness Management Association's (IFAMA) Global Student Case Competition. The competition is part of IFAMA's Annual World Symposium and Forum. This year's event took place in St. Paul, Minnesota, June 14-17. The world's top food and agribusiness graduate students representing 20 teams from across the globe were in attendance.

The MSU team is made up of students in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE) in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The Global Student Case Competition provides students an opportunity to showcase their skills in the areas of food and agribusiness to professionals attending the conference.

"During the competition, we were given four hours to read a case on Monsanto's newly acquired Climate Corporation, determine the strategic issues facing the firm, develop a solution for the strategic issues, create a presentation for our solution and convince a panel of judges that our solution was viable," explained Andrea Leschewski, team member and doctoral student studying agricultural markets.

Teamwork is often stressed as being highly important, and in this situation, the diverse backgrounds of each team member provided expertise in multiple fields. Working together allowed for holistic solutions that may not have been achieved without such collaboration, team members noted.

"We think our diversity and ability to capitalize on our strengths gave us an edge over the other 19 international teams," said Kendra Levine, team member and master's student in AFRE.

The winning team is composed of the following students:

• Tatevik Avetisyan, a master's student studying food and agribusiness management

• Andrea Leschewski, a doctoral student studying agricultural markets

• Kendra Levine, a master's student studying agricultural business

• Leonard Polzin, a master's student studying agricultural business

"The most difficult part of the competition is learning how to best manage your time and expertise as a team," Polzin said.

The team anticipated this difficulty and countered it by practicing their skills for weeks prior to the competition.

"Before the competition we had productive preparation as a team. We mastered how to effectively brainstorm in a limited time, discuss various ideas, identify the key strategic problem in a case study and come up with a strategy explicitly addressing the problem," Avetisyan said.

R. Brent Ross, associate professor in AFRE, served as the team's advisor. He was a liaison between the team and the IFAMA prior to the competition and provided valuable feedback to the MSU graduate students.

In recognition of the team's achievement, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations will be providing an opportunity for each of the members to travel to Rome, Italy, to work with FAO on a research project.

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