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Solving Human Challenges - How the Daniels School MSHRM program enhances student experience

Maria Weir & Brian Chupp


“We’re not only teaching students in-depth application of their knowledge, but we’re giving them experienced-based stories that they can tell future employers about.” – Brian Chupp, Clinical Assistant Professor, Academic Director of MSHRM

Context matters when it comes to solving human challenges for organizations such as access solution provider dormakaba and Eaton, a power management provider. What works at another company, looks good in a textbook solution or even worked in previous decades, often misses conditions distinct to them.

For instance, how does a global company think about structuring a workforce when team members live in three different time zones or continents? How should leaders think about building community and fostering moments that allow individual team members to connect, resolve inevitable interpersonal sparks or generate those kismet moments where unexpected creative solutions emerge?

For the 2023 MSHRM Case Competition, Purdue corporate partner dormakaba brought their conundrum to undergraduates. Another corporate partner, Eaton, provided the case for graduate students, asking them how they would attract top talent while differentiating the company in the digital space and changing their corporate culture. The two companies allowed 74 students from fourteen universities to tackle their unique dilemmas during the Daniels School of Business 13th Annual HR Case Competition.

Case competitions give graduate and undergraduate students a chance “to apply material in a real-world scenario in which any textbook answer would not be appropriate. It requires students to come to senior leadership with solutions, to defend why they should spend $500,000 for a proposed solution while keeping in mind the nuances that make an idea work in one context and not another,” says Brian Chupp, clinical assistant professor and academic director of the graduate human resource program.

Caption: Human resources students from around the U.S. and the world participate in the Daniels School of Business’ annual MSHRM Case Competition.

On November 2-3, 2023, undergraduates from Cornell, IU, Marian University, Missouri, North Texas, Penn State, Purdue, and Universidad Panamericana and graduate students from Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Utah State competed to provide actionable solutions for dormakaba and Eaton.

Each team faced the type of curveball questions that come every day for HR professionals, giving students experience in their field. Participating, especially winning, provides up-and-coming HR professionals story gold for future interviewing.

Awards were given out for 1st and 2nd place, as well as “Best Speaker” and “Best Q&A” for each division.  In the graduate division, Texas A&M took 1st place (for the 2nd year in a row), while South Carolina placed 2nd. The graduate division individual awards went to Ty’Ren Turner from South Carolina and Kathryn Brown from Texas A&M. In the undergrad division, IU took home 1st place, while Cornell placed 2nd. The undergraduate division individual awards were presented to Xavier Ramirez from Indiana University (for the 2nd year in a row) and Michelle Cao from Cornell.  Judges included representatives from eight organizational partners: Belden Inc., dormakaba, Eaton Corporation, London Stock Exchange, Purdue, Rolls-Royce, Wabash and White Lodging.

The Purdue teams represented well. Its graduate team consisted of Rajeev Nandyal, Shevon Warnakulasuriya Danushki, Arpita Raman, Arielle Rosenberg, and Griffin Titan.  The undergraduate team consisted of Avery Allen, Sanya Khullar, Katlyn Sherinian, Jenny Walker, and Rachel Zhang.

HR Conference

In addition to the case competition, the Daniels School of Business MSHRM program partnered with HR Indiana SHRM and hosted a half-day HR conference for students, faculty and professionals.  The 100+ attendees included case competition participants and advisors, Purdue students, faculty and staff, as well as HR professionals from around the state.  The focus of this year’s conference was “The Changing Workplace.”

Participants had the opportunity to hear from faculty and HR executives on various topics related to the evolving needs of managers and employees.  Four sessions of professional development included:

Session 1

The Science of Recovery: Helping Employees Thrive at Work and Home

Presenters: Dr. Allison Gabriel, Thomas J. Howatt Chair in Management and Faculty & Director of the Center for Working Well and Kim Kocur, Senior Director–Field Engagement at White Lodging

Session 2

Strategies for Thriving Amid Work-Life Challenges: A Multifaceted Approach to Coping with Stressors

Presenters: Dr. Kelly Wilson, Professor of Management and Korie Nash, SVP-HR at Eaton Corporation

Session 3

Creating and Maintaining a Sense of Purpose in a Virtual Age

Presenters: Dr. Jordan Nielsen, Assistant Professor of Management and Leah Tate, SVP-HR at Belden, Inc.

Session 4

AI in the Workplace: What to Know and How to Prepare

Presenter: Dr. Alex Alonso, Chief Knowledge Officer at SHRM

For more information on the 2023 HR Case Competition and Conference, please visit the website at


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