Learning via Cases in the SMF Program

During my undergraduate years, cases were something I mostly overlooked as they were few and far between. To me they were just another assignment/reading that I had to get done, and for the most part I would just skim through them without putting too much thought into them. However, I can definitely say I have had a change of heart about them this year. In the SMF program, they have been one of the most important sources of my learning.

So far this year I have got the chance to read, analyze, and discuss around 30 different cases. It’s hard for me to put into words the breadth of knowledge that I have picked up from these different cases. It extends far beyond the typical finance knowledge you would expect to learn in the SMF program. I have gained valuable lessons in everything from leadership to office culture to financial modeling. What makes these cases so valuable to me though isn’t just the reading of them though, it is the discussion that ensues. I have found that my view on the case changes greatly as I am exposed to the different opinions presented by my peers and the instructor. Additionally, I think they make class far more interesting than your standard lecture environment, as the debates that surround cases make for an engaging and interesting environment.

Today, I also wanted to share some tips that have helped me be successful in learning from cases this year.

  • Do two readings of the case. One looking for the big picture and background knowledge. The second looking for the finer details that will help in your analysis.
  • Mark-up your case document. Highlights and underlines will help you jump around to important details mid-discussion.
  • Don’t be afraid to participate in the discussion, even if you are not sure of your answer. Speaking up helps not only you but your classmates as well.
  • Don’t gloss over the appendix and footnotes. Often times a lot of important information and graphs is tucked away, so make sure you are giving all parts of the document equal attention

Lastly, I wanted to share with you guys some interesting cases I read this year available for purchase from Harvard Business Publishing: