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  The Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California (USC) has announced a challenge to seven top business schools to develop pedantic strategic plans focusing on the retail industry.
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The schools are participants in the Second Annual Marshall MBA Global Consulting Challenge, an invitational competition that simulates a real consulting engagement for the event's corporate sponsor, to be held January 29-30, 2004 in Los Angeles.

Competing MBA teams represent business schools at USC, University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, University of California-Berkeley, Yale University, London Business School, University of Pennsylvania and returning champions University of Michigan.

Competitors will be judged by a panel of consulting professionals and executives from the sponsoring company. The judges will evaluate the students on their understanding of the retail industry's current market conditions, their innovativeness and the practicality of the solutions they develop, and how professionally they present.

Wireless carrier Cingular, the 2003 corporate sponsor, challenged teams to develop strategies to reduce customer turnover, the industry problem referred to as "churn."

"This year's sponsor and their retail strategic challenge will be revealed the two weeks before the competition, allowing students equal time for focused research and to hone their presentations," said Randolph Almond of the Marshall Management Consulting Club, who are organizing the event.

Almond has arranged for student teams to participate in a teleconference on December 18th with retail industry expert Alexander Lintner, a partner with the Boston Consulting Group, one of the global leaders in strategic management consulting. Lintner will provide a retail industry overview and field questions. The students will also be provided with several industry reports to study.

"Students will have the same opportunity, time and level of corporate involvement that real-world consultants often experience," said Professor Carl Voigt, Associate Dean of the Marshall MBA Program at USC. "In almost every aspect, this is a real consulting project."

The students will compete for a $3,000 award and the honor of holding the Marshall MBA Global Consulting Challenge Cup for a year.
 
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