John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition: More than Competing

This past winter, I teamed up with four Goizueta Business School classmates for the John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition (JLCC). If this is your first introduction to JLCC, its purpose is to bring corporations and students interested in business together to create innovative and actionable racial justice initiatives. Please, read more about JLCC here.

This was my first case competition. While I expected competition, I also had the opportunity to enjoy connection, education, impact, and celebration. Here’s how it all went…

In November, my team formed by considering the diversity of perspectives needed to compete successfully. I particularly enjoyed the diversity of our programs; with one 1st-Year and three 2nd-Years in the Two-Year MBA program and me, a One-Year MBA student, this provided intentional time to connect with classmates in different cohorts. We got to know one another, aligned our expectations, and set a cadence for meeting. Our first test was the Preliminary Application round. We outlined our perspectives, approach, and intent to invest the portion of the prize money earmarked for a racial justice initiative.

In December 2020, we were selected as one of 24 Semi-Finalist teams from more than 100 Applicant teams! We were even more thrilled to be paired with Walmart, one of JLCC’s corporate sponsors! We got to work learning even more. Together, our team engaged with Walmart, researched what causes and perpetuates racial injustice, dived into the “beloved community” that was the vision of John Lewis and his contemporaries, and dreamed up solutions to draw us closer to equity, inclusion, and justice. We connected with Goizueta professors Dr. Renée Dye and Donna Peters to advise us on our strategies and presentation, respectively.

In January 2021, it was finally time to compete! We had studied, prepared, and rehearsed. Unfortunately, we were not one of the six teams to reach the finals. Still, we really enjoyed competing and learned even more as we were able to watch the other teams participating in the Final Round.

Though we did not win any of the official prizes, our team was truly fulfilled and inspired through our participation. The goals of the John R. Lewis Racial Justice Competition were education and action. We left more knowledgeable and having shared actionable ideas for corporate racial justice initiatives with Walmart. Now, we’re even more driven to further our learning and bring racial justice initiatives into our future roles at Amazon, Bain & Company, MARS, and McKinsey & Company (2)!

And, so, as MBA students do, we celebrated (socially-distanced) a few days later with a fun evening on our teammate’s back porch!

I send a huge thanks to my teammates Dan Walsh 21MBA, Danni El Tayeb 21MBA, Nikki Moorer 22MBA, and Rishabh Jaishankar 21MBA as well as our friends and classmates in JLCC leadership for the incredible experience.

AJ Hobbs

AJ Hobbs

AJ Hobbs is a 2021 Goizueta Business School MBA student in the One-Year accelerated program. She is an industrial engineer with degrees from Clemson University and Purdue University and has worked in operational improvement consulting. At Goizueta, AJ studies strategy, finance, and leadership. She will join Bain & Company after graduation. She enjoys college football, vinyasa yoga, true crime podcasts, a good dinner party, and her new puppy.