MBA candidate Chris DiGiacomo is accustomed to negotiating project dates and deadlines through his job as a program management specialist at Pratt & Whitney.
But after winning the 4th Annual Business/Law Negotiation Competition on January 27 at UConn Law School with two teammates, he admits he had to lie down.
“My brain was exhausted,” he said. “It was exciting, but also mentally draining.”
DiGiacomo, one of 60 competitors, was on the winning team with law students Brooke Tinnerello and Steven Lin. The team is now seeking admission to an international negotiation competition to be held in San Francisco in April.
“The competition validated everything I learned in my MBA summer class on negotiations,” DiGiacomo said. “To have someone judge you and evaluate what you’ve learned, really proves the value and power of the skills you’ve developed.”
Competition co-organizer and management professor Nora Madjar said 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 only focused 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.
The first two competition rounds 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 Saturday, 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.”