May 8, 2015

6th Annual Essay Competition (2015)

6th Annual Essay Competition (2015)

The Cornell HR Review is very pleased to announce the winners of the 6th Annual Student Essay Competition sponsored by General Electric, Shell, and Dell! Open to all students pursuing a degree in HR or a related discipline, this year’s competition challenged students to respond to one of three prompts, which addressed such topics as the skills gap and its implications to global businesses, balance between data-driven people solutions and people-focused decision making, and HR’s role in ensuring organizational agility in changing markets. Prizes for the competition included $1000 for first place, $500 for second, and $250 for third.

Submissions were received from 13 different universities. After a blind review process, the HR Review’s editorial board chose the competition’s top six. Then, winners were selected according to the combined scores of an independent panel of judges, which included Vicky Liao from GE, David E. Williams from Shell, Jennifer Saavedra from Dell, and Professor Brad Bell of Cornell University.

Students from Cornell University submitted winning essays, with Matt Olson (Cornell MILR ‘15) garnering the first place prize for his essay, A Multilateral Approach to Bridging the Global Skills Gap, which argues that employers must understand their own skill supply and demand, develop external partnerships, and revisit their current practices to overcome the skills gap. Second place for the competition went to John Lipkin (Cornell MILR ‘15) for his essay titled Sieving through the Data to Find the Person: HR’s Imperative for Balancing Big data with People Centricity. Marc Getzoff (Cornell BSILR ’16) took home third place with the essay The Theoretical Implications of HR on a Growing Competition. Receiving an honorable mention was Andrew Soluk (Cornell BSILR ’15) for his essay The Benefits of Corporately Funded Childcare.

This year’s competition had an outstanding pool of submissions covering all three prompts and CHRR would like to thank all of the individuals that took the time to participate. The winning entries will be published in CHRR in the coming months, and details regarding the next annual essay competition will be announced in early 2016.

Prompts
1. When asked what worries them most, many HR leaders name the lack of workers with the right knowledge, skills, and abilities to match their open positions and upcoming needs. A 2014 SHRM survey indicated that 50% of firms had difficulty staffing due to lack of candidates with the necessary technical skills. Diagnose the potential causes of this problem and make recommendations for large global companies and their leaders in remedying this issue.

2. In 2007, Google implemented an algorithm to determine which engineers should be promoted. It was never used, however, because of the engineers’ overwhelmingly negative response. How should HR departments balance the desirability of data-driven people solutions with the desirability of more traditional, people-focused decision making? How can HR exploit the benefits of data and analytics while mitigating resistance and other challenges?

3. Despite the many advantages of size, large corporations are often challenged by their reduced agility versus start ups and other small competitors. How can HR help businesses remain agile in the face of changing market conditions and increased competition from smaller, more nimble organizations? How can firms navigate this challenge while continuing to grow through mergers, acquisitions, global expansion, and entry into new product markets?

Results
1st Place: Matt Olson
2nd Place: John Lipkin
3rd Place: Marc Getzoff
Honorable Mention: Andrew Soluk