Press Releases / April 14, 2020

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University Wins First Place in the 2020 Executive Leadership Council National Business Case Competition

Washington, DC (April 14, 2020) – Four MBA candidates from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University won The Executive Leadership Council’s (ELC) 2020 National Business Case Competition, making a compelling case for attracting more members of the Millennial and Generation Z demographics to careers in the oil and gas industries. The Executive Leadership Council is the preeminent membership organization for the development of global Black leaders with a focus on building the talent pipeline of the next generation of global Black executives.

The first place team from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University included team captain Hannah Mitchem, Tracey Fetherson, Mohammed Zain and Olaniyi Jinadu. The team received a cash award of $35,000. A $20,000 check went to the second place team from Howard University School of Business and the third place team from Indiana University Kelley School of Business won $15,000.

For the first time in the competition’s history, The ELC and Exxon Mobil Corporation opted to host the finalists’ presentations virtually as a result of COVID-19.

“Congratulations to the winning team of the 2020 National Business Case Competition. All of the teams clearly share a commitment to Black Excellence. It was an honor to see these business leaders of tomorrow in action, resolving relevant and current workforce issues. If we are in their hands, our future looks bright,” said Crystal E. Ashby, Interim President and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council. “I am proud that The ELC and ExxonMobil were able to draw on innovation and technology to ensure that the Competition Finals would still occur on schedule, in the midst of a global pandemic. Our students will still receive the financial scholarships to help support their business education pursuits. The remarkable continued success of this event – and of all of our ELC Scholars programs – is a testament to The ELC’s commitment to building the pipeline of the next generation of Black business executives.”

“This year’s theme, Leadership in the Digital Age, was actually chosen well before the COVID-19 outbreak. This pandemic is extremely unfortunate, and it underscores the need to be able to fully leverage digital technology to conduct business on personal and professional levels,” said Artis Brown, Fuels Manager at Exxon Mobil Corporation. “Teams did an excellent job of rising to this unique situation while addressing the original challenge of creating a strategy to help a fictional major oil and gas company execute a strategy that uses digitalization to improve financial performance and drive innovation, creativity and inclusiveness. Teams also offered forward-thinking approaches to recruiting and developing diverse and underrepresented groups to support the recommended digital strategy.”

The annual competition, sponsored and hosted by Exxon Mobil Corporation for the 11th consecutive year, invites students from the nation’s top business schools to form teams, led by Black team leaders, to analyze a timely business issue that demonstrates the students’ critical thinking and analytical and communication skills.

In addition to the award, the first place team from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University will be introduced at The Executive Leadership Council’s Annual Recognition Gala and Honors Symposium in October 2020. 

About The Executive Leadership Council
The Executive Leadership Council is the preeminent membership organization committed to increasing the number of global Black executives in C-Suites, on corporate boards and in global enterprises. Our purpose is to open channels of opportunity for the development of black executives to positively impact business and our communities. (


Edda Collins Coleman