Thunderbird students win human resources case competition

April 21, 2013

A team of three students from Thunderbird School of Global Management took first place in the 2013 Southwest Central Region HR Games at the Society for Human Resource Management’s Student Conference, held this month in Austin, Texas.

The case-solving competition tested the HR knowledge of Thunderbird students Brittany Baria, Landon Petersen and Arun Thomas – and, in the end, their solution to a realistic job scenario won them the top prize.

“I think what set us apart from the other teams was our ability to connect very specific HR issues to the overall business imperatives: We were able to convey how HR adjustments could impact the success of the firm,” said Peterson. “Thunderbird prepared us to see issues through that lens.”

Baria added, “At Thunderbird we are exposed to cases in each of our courses, which in turn prepared us for this case competition.” 

The case was about a family-run hotel company in Chicago looking to follow through on its vision of engaging customers and employees while trying to expand its operations nationally. First, the students pitched their approach to a panel of judges who acted as the company’s managers, reviewing the consulting teams. In the final presentation the judges played the role of the family who owned the business. Each of the two presentations ended with intense Q&A sessions.

The grand prize included $2,500 cash, free annual conference registration, and a complimentary Assurance of Learning exam. But that wasn’t all the students took home.

“As a career switcher trying to move into HR, winning this competition and having my solutions scrutinized by seasoned professionals was the validation I needed to make sure that I made the right choice,” said Thomas.

The Thunderbird team was accompanied by Dr. Ann Nelson and Jason Viken, the student relations representatives for Arizona SHRM. This is the second consecutive year that Thunderbird has won the Southwest Central Region HR Games.

Media can contact Virginia Mungovan at or (602) 978-7081 for more information.


About Thunderbird School of Global Management

Thunderbird is the world’s No. 1-ranked school of international business, with nearly 70 years of experience in equipping global leaders with the business skills and global mindset necessary to create sustainable prosperity worldwide. For more about Thunderbird, visit