This is the first time that a Cal Poly Pomona team has placed first in competition, which is sponsored by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the leading organization for HR professionals. Business majors competed against students from the University of Washington and University of Nevada, Reno as well as an MBA team from Oregon’s Willamette University.
“The students worked hard preparing for the competition,” says Associate Dean Cheryl Wyrick, who served as team advisor. “They wanted to do well and represent Cal Poly Pomona the very best they could. I’m very proud of their achievement.”
SHRM previously hosted an annual quiz bowl but changed the format this year to better reflect the role of HR specialists in the workplace. The change was good news to Cal Poly Pomona team leader Jennifer Gibson, who says a polytechnic education offers the best preparation for a case competition.
“This is what Cal Poly Pomona does best,” says Gibson, adding that the new format rewards students who excel in team-building, communication and analysis.
Gibson was tasked with creating the Cal Poly Pomona team and recruited stand-out students from the campus’ Professionals in Human Resources Association. The team members are: Abraham Awad, Edward Batoon, Carolina Bunyea and Kisha Smith.
In the competition, teams were presented with a real-life scenario: After an employee was fired for using a company vehicle without seeking permission, the individual filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. Student teams were tasked with reporting to company executives and legal counsel whether the employee had a legitimate case. Teams had four hours to prepare their findings in a two-page report and a slideshow presentation to a panel of judges. The Cal Poly Pomona team researched federal and state labor and privacy laws, as well as past judicial cases.
Awad, who will graduate in June with a concentration in human resources, believes participating in the competition has given him an edge in the workplace.
“Using everything I learned in the classroom at Cal Poly Pomona and in the case competition, has set me up for success,” Awad says. “I feel that opportunities for advancement are limitless.”
(Photo: Team members are Kisha Smith, Jennifer Gibson, Abraham Awad, Carolina Bunyea, Ed Batoon.)