Sonoma State is Only School to Take Home Multiple Awards at NACRA Conference

Sonoma State University made a huge impact at the North American Case Research Association Conference in Victoria, British Columbia. Two of the top awards were won by a faculty team and a team of two recent MBA graduates, making Sonoma State the only university to win multiple awards at this conference.

The faculty team, Professors Armand Gilinsky and Sandra Newton, won the Gold Award for Best Conference Case. Kimberley Finnie and Shaun Richardson, recent MBA alumni, received the Jonathan Welch award for Best Case in Finance and Economics, making them the first students to ever win this award.

"It is very difficult for students to win anything at that conference. They are not just up against other students, but professors as well," said Gilinsky. Their case, "The Bid to Purchase Rara Avis Vineyards: Has This Bird Flown?," involves the owner of a winery in Sonoma looking to purchase a winery on the Central Coast.

"We were proud of our work before we entered the competition, and it was very exciting to be recognized by such a well-respected organization," stated Richardson. "We are so grateful to Dr. Gilinsky for the mentorship on this project and encouraging us to submit our case to the conference," added Finnie.

Professors Gilinsky and Newton's case, "Naked The 'Sudoku Approach,'" which received the Gold Award for Best Conference Case, explores ideas that could fundamentally change the way wine is produced, marketed and purchased.

Both Gilinsky and Newton were deeply honored by the win. "After they called the bronze and silver winners, I thought to myself 'they must have someone really good for gold.' Turns out, all I had to do was look across the table," Gilinsky explained, referring to Professor Newton. Each professor credits the other with being responsible for such a remarkable case and high achievement.

"Writing a case study was totally different from other empirical research that I have done," explained Professor Newton, who had never written a case before this. "It was harder, but very enjoyable." Case studies are used by many universities to give students the opportunity to work through real business situations.

"We are a small school that makes a big impact, and we certainly made one at that conference," said Gilinsky.

Visit NACRA at to learn more about his conference.