MBA Candidates, Law Students Test Skills in Negotiation Challenge

students in negotiation competition
MBA Candidates, Law Students Test Skills in Negotiation Challenge
January 31, 2018
Hartford, CT

Law student Brooke Tinnerello ‘20 found her undergraduate degree in finance and her legal education formed a winning combination in the 4th Annual Business/Law Negotiation Competition.

“Participating in the competition was a great experience,” she said. “I realized my strengths and also learned the ways in which I can improve my negotiation skills." Tinnerello and her two teammates—law student Steven Lin ’20 and MBA candidate Chris DiGiacomo from UConn School of Business—won the two-day competition in a field of 60 competitors.

DiGiacomo said he is accustomed to negotiating project dates and deadlines through his job as a program management specialist at Pratt & Whitney. But after the competition, he admitted, he had to lie down.

“My brain was exhausted,’’ he said. “It was exciting, but also mentally draining.’’

The three teammates are now seeking admission to an international negotiation competition to be held in San Francisco in April.

UConn Law Professor Jessica Rubin, who organized the competition with Professor Nora Madjar of the School of Business, said it “provides a realistic and valuable opportunity for students to collaborate across disciplines. Students can take this skill into their eventual careers, where they will often work with professionals from other disciplines.” 

This year’s competition centered around a series of business cases between company founders and angel investors, or buyers and sellers, of an airline company. The first two rounds of negotiations were very different. In the first, teams were evaluated based on their ability to build trust and relationships. In the second, judges focused only on the groups’ ability to gain most of the profit. Students had to demonstrate that they can collaborate with their team members as well as negotiate on their own.

Both competitions were held at the Graduate Business Learning Center in downtown Hartford on Friday, Jan. 26. Twenty-five judges, mostly alumni, provided feedback and expertise. Four teams then advanced to the second-day and a third round of the competition, held at the law school on Jan. 27.

“The winning team really showed a great deal of expertise and excellent skills. All the judges were impressed,’’ Madjar said. “The competition is growing every year. Students realize the value of negotiation and the importance of collaborating with people who have different perspectives. The business and law students valued each other’s viewpoints and learned a great deal from each other, both about how to handle all the numbers and financial statements and how to build strong and persuasive arguments.’’

“I think the hardest part was preparing the negotiation in such a short amount of time and making sure you could recall the information correctly,’’ said DiGiacomo, an expectant dad whose wife, Julie DiGiacomo, is also an MBA student.

“I have an engineering background, and I always wanted to learn more about the business side of my company,’’ said DiGiacomo, who earned his degree through the part-time program. “I will miss my classes after I graduate in May. I’ve loved the UConn experience.’’