UNT Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) officers Caroline Poch and Trent Harris placed second in the 2021 Texas SHRM Case Study Competition.
The pair represented the smallest team competing, yet still beat out four other Texas institutions: University of Texas Austin, University of Texas Tyler, Southern Methodist University and Baylor University.
Given just a week to compose a succinct winning solution to a panel of virtual judges, Poch and Harris overcame several odds.
“We only had ten minutes to present in front of the three judges—explaining our analyses and implementation strategies. I pulled two all-nighters, and I even presented without sleeping for 42 hours, as we had a lot of ground to cover with only two team members,” explained OBHR major Poch, who served as team captain.
A tie was initially deemed highly unlikely, but Poch and Harris made things difficult for the judges with their compelling analyses. Calling in a fourth judge and a second, tie-breaking presentation, Poch and Harris were asked to do it all again before deemed runner-up to University of Texas Dallas.
Through it all, Poch successfully managed the added challenge of competing virtually with a disability.
“The most challenging aspect stemmed from me being functionally deaf. I was completely confident, I knew Trent and I had an excellent case solution, but I was constantly worrying about whether closed captions would be available,” she said.
Luckily, the steadfast support of advisors Dr. Julie Hancock and Dr. Mariya Gavrilova Aguilar played a large role helping Poch overcome her fears and instill confidence in their team.
“Dr. Mariya Gavrilova Aguilar, specifically, has been one of the most supportive people I have ever met. It seems as if it is her nature, not a part of her career. She attended every event at the competition, checking in with us as we went along to make sure we were doing okay,” explained Poch.
In addition to winning runner-up, Poch and Harris were awarded supplemental ribbons to acknowledge that their accomplishment represented more work than what two people could normally pull off.