Smeal MBAs Participate in 13th Annual KeyBank Minority MBA Student Case Competition

A team of second year Smeal MBAs participated in the 13th Annual KeyBank Minority MBA Student Case Competition. Held on February 26-27, 2017, the invitation-only competition brought 26 business schools together to analyze a case on cyber security. The Smeal MBA team included F. Jordan Crespo, Justin Richards and Zahidul Naim Zakaria.

The case was a tremendous learning opportunity for the team on two fronts – regional banking industry and cyber security. The objective was to assume the role of a consulting team who would advise KeyBank on how to turn cyber security and fraud into a competitive advantage in the regions they compete in. The primary assignment was to analyze emerging cyber security risks, looking at online transactions and the vulnerability digital banking platforms to phishing and malware attacks. Given the trends of how much has been stolen by hackers and their automated attack mechanisms in the last decade – organizations need to take steps to protect themselves and their customers. The team also took a deep dive in to the regional banking industry to understand what differentiates each player in the market in order to develop a research-backed recommendation that would be practical for KeyBank to implement.Keybank smeal 2017The team recommended both hardware and software upgrades that make financial sense for KeyBank. In formulating a practical solution, the team also considered the differences in the customer base. Although this is a highly technical problem and requires a tech-savvy solution- the effectiveness of these solutions come down to people and understanding how different people think of their security differently. Baby boomers and millennials represent roughly 75 million people each in the US – and their size makes both of them very important to the banking industry. Although both these groups want security, they view risks differently, and have different levels of willingness to be inconvenienced and different willingness to pay additional fees when it comes to additional security. The final recommendation looked into the use of 2 factor authentication, biometric security, training and also regional cooperation with other banks in order to fight cybercrimes against the bank on all fronts. The team also connected their recommendations to business profitability and returns for KeyBank.

The top five teams at the competition were (in rank order), University of Pittsburgh, University of Buffalo (SUNY), Hampton University, The Ohio State University and Johns Hopkins University. While the Smeal team did not place in the top five, they were grateful to be part of a competition that brought such an important topic to the forefront. Cyber security is going to be an area of concern for years to come and will become increasingly important – perhaps that is why we are seeing technology specialists moving from the server room to the C-suite across corporate America.

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