Judges settled into swivel chairs behind the long wooden tables of the College’s Business Building. In the front of the room, a line of suits and blue ties anxiously waited to begin their presentation. After a nod from a judge, team captain and sophomore economics major Davis Craig stepped forward to introduce team Juke and Jab, the final team of the day in the Johnson & Johnson University Case Competition.
“Juke and Jab — knocking out one problem at a time,” Craig said, sharing the team’s slogan with the audience.
A total of four teams from the College participated in the University Case Competition on Wednesday, Feb. 27. This was the first year the opportunity has been offered to students at the College, explained Richard Minevich, senior financial analyst at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and alumnus of the College. Only 10 schools are asked to participate in the competition each year.
“We only want the best of the best,” Minevich said. Participants were challenged to take the decision-making role in a hypothetical Johnson & Johnson-like company called Pantheon. The students needed to decide whether they wanted to internally develop, buy from a third party, or license from a third party a new oncology drug called Abrira. The drug’s purpose was to extend the life of prostate cancer patients who had stopped responding to chemotherapy.
The students then presented these decisions along with an in-depth financial analysis to judges who were then free to ask the team questions. The panel of judges was made up of professors from the College as well at employees from Johnson & Johnson.
“We want to see how well they stick to their guns and defend why they chose one decision over the other,” Minevich said.
Team Juke and Jab was the winning team from Wednesday’s event. They will now move on to the corporate level of the competition, which will be held at Johnson & Johnson’s headquarters over spring break. There, they will compete against the winning teams from other participating colleges.
The victorious team formed at the competition information session that was held earlier this year.
“I went to the information session, saw a couple kids who were sitting there and they didn’t look like they had a team. I went and sat next to them and said, ‘Hey you guys need a team?’ and just kind of formed a team from there,” Craig said. The team has since become good friends.
In addition to teaching students about the nuts and bolts of a major corporation, the competition serves as a recruiting tool for Johnson & Johnson.
“It gives us an opportunity to get to know students. We look at TCNJ as a great source of future leaders,” said Megan Correll, judge for the competition and alumna of the College.
The College is what Johnson & Johnson refers to as a core school, which means the company looks to heavily recruit from the finance department and business school, explained Stephanie Giordano, judge and alumna of the College.
“The competition itself is a great opportunity to network within J&J and have them get a real look at you and what you are capable of doing. So that opportunity is fantastic,” said David DeLooper, junior finance major and participant in the competition.
DeLooper’s team presented second on Wednesday and networked with Johnson & Johnson employees at the competition luncheon.
“You are working together as a team, a large team, with different schedules and conflicting ideas and values, so you got to work through conflicts. You got to persevere and actually put the time in so you are able to create success,” DeLooper said about the competition.
The competition case was based on a real drug that Johnson & Johnson had recently released called Zytiga. The drug’s launch was the largest in the company’s history, explained Minevich. Johnson & Johnson hopes that the competition raises awareness about the dangers of prostate cancer.
“One in six men are diagnosed with prostate cancer,” Minevich said in the closing of the competition. “Men don’t talk about these things, and they don’t go to the doctor until it’s too late.”
Johnson & Johnson said they plan to bring the competition back to the College next year and for many years to come. The College plans to increase the number of student teams next year as well, said Debra Klokis, employer relations specialist at the College and one of main coordinators of the competition.
Following the closing of the competition, team Juke and Jab exchanged handshakes, smiles and hugs before grabbing wastes for a group photo.
“It’s a three or four week thing, where you can jump in for a month with a team and compete in something that could potentially be really rewarding,” Davis said, recommending the competition to other students.