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Zicklin Grad Students Seize Silver in Nationwide MBA Case Competition

January 2, 2024

A team of four Zicklin School of Business graduate students—Shalaka Datar (MS, ’24), Justin McMillin (MBA, ’26), Harsh Thosani (MS, ’25), and Linger (Eva) Zhang (MS, ’24)—placed second in the Florida Southern College Strategic MBA Case Competition in November.  

Clockwise from upper left: Shalaka, Justin, Eva, Harsh

Team Health and Nutrition, as the Zicklin students called themselves, outperformed 24 other teams from universities across the country, including Rutgers, George Washington University, Purdue, and the University of Notre Dame. The challenge, which was virtual, asked students to devise a growth plan for the pharmacy division of Publix, a Florida-based grocery store chain and a sponsor of the conference.  

The Zicklin team’s winning presentation proposed expanding access to pharmacy services via telehealth services, a rewards program, an updated Publix mobile application, and a holistic model encompassing meal plans, fitness programs, and other health needs.  

Justin, an Evening MBA student who was responsible for overall storytelling, noted that the final presentation reflected Publix’s branding—a crucial element in the win. “The judges also liked that it had a logical flow,” he added. “They told us, ‘You helped us understand ourselves better.’” 

The three other students are all in the MS in Finance program. Shalaka led the financial analysis portion of the presentation and also worked on the loyalty program concept. Harsh conducted research on future opportunities in health and wellness and how to integrate them into Publix’s pharmacy business, and Eva analyzed consumer data to recommend modifications to Publix’s mobile application.  

The team was also asked what their favorite things about the Zicklin School were. Shalaka said she loved interacting with students and teachers and enjoyed being on campus. Justin said it was diversity—reflected in Health and Nutrition’s own makeup of students from India, the U.S., and China. Harsh, meanwhile, named the Bloomberg terminals on the Wasserman Trading Floor, and Eva said it was the opportunity to join case competitions such as this one; besides providing the chance to practice her English, she offered, such contests “help me learn the vibe—how teamwork is done in the U.S.”

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