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Zicklin MBA Students Win Over $5K in Case Competition

February 6, 2023

Three Zicklin MBA Class of ’23 candidates — Omar Alrifai, Daniel De Blois, and Dean Gavindane — were named the winners of the 2022 Zurich Enterprise Challenge, an international competition hosted by Zurich Insurance Group. The challenge gives graduate business students the opportunity to solve real-life business problems for some of Zurich Insurance Group’s clients. 

From left: Omar Alrifai, Daniel De Blois, Dean Gavindane

After competing with other student teams from universities worldwide on a climate change risk analysis topic, the Zicklin team qualified and proceeded to the customer round of the Zurich Enterprise Challenge. In this round, the Zicklin team worked on a case study about Geopolitical & Economic Uncertainty and Instability (GEUI) risk. They performed a risk analysis and answered a series of questions, such as describing the potential consequences of GEUI risk for a multinational company, identifying sources of relevant information that could be used to measure these risks, and proposing mitigation strategies. 

The Zicklin team was paired with VF Corporation, the parent company of well-known apparel and footwear brands such as Vans, Timberland, and The North Face, and tasked with finding ways to identify, measure, and mitigate GEUI risks. “GEUI risks are generally multivariate and qualitative in nature, which makes them difficult to quantify,” observes Zicklin team captain Omar Alrifai. “We met biweekly with the company’s vice president of global tax and treasury and the VP of enterprise risk management, to come up with a quantitative method.” They also made use of the Zurich Risk Room, a country risk assessment tool that shows the impact of multivariate risks on individual countries and the interconnectivity between different kinds of risks. 

Based on the Zurich Risk Room tool information and the knowledge gathered from three-and-a-half months of client discussions, the Zicklin team created an Excel-based model for quantifying GEUI risk data and made a presentation summarizing their work, which they submitted to Zurich Insurance Group. Two months later, they learned they had won the top prize of 5,000 Swiss francs.

Zicklin team member Dean Gavindane says his biggest takeaway from the experience was realizing “it’s essential to have a team you can depend on and trust,” he offers. “Omar and Danny are two of the most intelligent people I’ve worked with throughout my MBA career.” 

He adds, “It’s not every day you get to peel back the layers of such a large company and find the answer to a problem for a client that would have taken them an excessive amount of time and funding to solve.” 

“It was an absolute pleasure working with Omar, Daniel, and Dean, and I know we learned as much from them as they did from us. Their professionalism, energy, strategic and innovative thinking, and willingness to embrace feedback throughout the process led to an incredibly valuable case study outcome that VF will utilize going forward as part of our management of geopolitical and economic risk,” remarked Doug Hassman, VP Global Tax & Treasury, and Maggie Biggs, VP Enterprise Risk Management at VF Corporation.

“Daniel, Dean and Omar had to compete with many other highly talented and motivated student teams from universities all over the world. They have shown impressive commitment and dedication, and provided high caliber outputs at every stage of the Zurich Enterprise Challenge 2022, which made them the well-deserved winners of the competition.” says Christian Amon, Senior Proposition Manager at Zurich Insurance Group. Jay Knier, Global Relationship Leader at Zurich North America, highlighted that “the Zurich Enterprise Challenge (ZEC) is another great opportunity for Zurich to partner with our customers. We’re glad VF found value in that project and engaged with Zurich and the student teams again. We’re glad Zurich can bring this type of fresh thinking to relationship customers like VF via the ZEC and the Zurich Risk Room.”


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