Kogod School of Business

Info For

Our Approach to Learning


Kogod School of Business Graduating Seniors Face Off in Consulting Showdown

Real-life clients serve as judges in the 2024 Capstone Championship, with winning teams’ names inscribed on the new cup.



As teams in the National Hockey League battle this spring for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup, close to a dozen students from the Kogod School of Business recently earned the right to have their name on a less well-known—but perhaps similarly prestigious—trophy.

On April 20, ten undergraduate teams of outgoing senior students squared off in the Capstone Championship. The winners will be recognized with inscriptions on a new championship cup for the first time.

The event took the shape of a case competition. Specifically, the face-off involved a live consulting project featuring 120 students across five “Strategic Management” course sections—plus two real-world clients acting as judges. 

“It’s a transition moment for students to transition from being a student to being a consultant,” said Dan Kopman, Kogod’s Department of Management professor. 

“So they have to respond to the client,” Kopman explained. “That can be interesting; that can be challenging.” 

The Culmination of a Semester of Hard Work

The high-stakes consulting showdown followed six weeks of coursework at the semester's outset and another six weeks of intensive preparation.

Students spent the semester examining their clients’ industries and conducting in-depth internal analyses for their final consulting presentations.

Participating clients this spring included DC-based non-profit record label Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, a particularly relevant client for students in Kogod’s Business and Entertainment major.

AU’s Office of Sustainability was the second client, seeking ideas for better engagement, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting achieving the university’s zero-waste targets.

Following preparation work during the final weeks of the semester, 25 teams distilled their ideas into condensed, ten-minute presentations in front of faculty judges in mid-April.

Then, the final ten teams—five dedicated to each client—advanced to the Capstone Championship on April 20, with the winners decided entirely by the clients. 

After all, Kopman pointed out, in a true consulting relationship, the client’s opinion ultimately matters. 

“It was a real-world situation,” he said, highlighting the hands-on nature of the experience.

“It’s partly about the best presentation,” Kopman added. “But it’s also about what the client wants.”

2024 Capstone Championship Winners

After each of the two clients heard the final presentation from the five teams, both determined a “winner.”

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings selected one winning team: Rocio Albiol Fernandez, Matthew Ventola, Isabella Sutton, Anna Maddox, and Lily Cohen.

Among its presenters, AU’s Office of Sustainability selected a winning team: Benjamin Carme, Caroline Largoza, Emma McKeon, and Scarlett Wedergren.

A True Hands-On Experience  

On the eve of commencement, the experience proved valuable for students and served as a preview of what would come after they left campus.

"This project has equipped me with valuable insights into the consulting field, particularly in terms of effectively communicating with clients and collaborating with subject matter experts to develop a solution-oriented deliverable,” said Emma McKeon (Kogod ‘24).

These interactions were incredibly valuable in modeling a real-life consulting project environment. These hands-on learning experiences have been the hallmark of my Kogod experience.”


Scarlett Wedergren

Kogod School of Business Student, Class of 2024

What’s especially notable about this experiential consulting exercise is that it also delivers real value to the client participants; AU’s Office of Sustainability says it’s already discussing student consultants’ recommendations in developing its 2024-2025 plan.

Working with the Kogod students this spring provided a new opportunity to put students in a consulting role to address some key challenges related to zero waste, outreach, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction,” noted Megan Litke, AU director of sustainability.

“We were impressed by their professionalism, preparation, depth of research, and innovative solutions,” added Anna Parse Johnson, AU sustainability manager.

In Kopman’s eyes, the entire experience serves as a genuine transition moment for students—and, in many ways, the culmination of their time at Kogod.

“I think this was an opportunity for students to work with an organization that has all the good, the bad, and the ugly of any organization,” he said. “You’ve got to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they need. It’s not about you, it’s about them. And the students definitely got an experience.” 

Learn more about last year's Capstone Championship here.