Posts Tagged 'case competition'

2014 Internal Case Competition – controlled chaos

A couple weekends back I volunteered for the 2014 Internal Case Competition. It was a great experience to set back and time – much less stressful that last year where my group and I were frantically trying to create a strategic plan, marketing campaign and solid finances for a fake perfume company.
I am a a big fan of case competitions – I even traveled to Calgary, Canada last year to complete in the Haskayne 24 Hour Case Completion with the Haskayne School of Business. Side note, want to see four outspoken and intelligent Fisher MBAs become experts about the Canadian Oil Sands Industry in less than a day? Send them to Canada and throw them into a case competition!

One thing I enjoyed seeing during my volunteering was truly how much you learn in business school. As a timer, I was able to watch several presentations – and hold up cards that said 5/2/1 minute left and STOP – yeah, I  know, I am a huge deal :)

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But in all seriousness, the presentations were fantastic. I am constantly in awe of the talent of my fellow classmates. The Class of 2015 is full of great presenters and very creative individuals. The Internal Case is a weekend of long nights, early mornings and learning how to communicate with your teammates. Judges aren’t afraid to ask intense questions and make you defend your ideas — or think on your feet!

Congrats on another successful Fisher Internal Case Competition weekend!

 

 


A new life

It seems like only yesterday that I landed in Columbus airport to begin my new journey as a Full Time MBA student at the The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business, and already an entire term has flown by! It’s unbelievable how fast time flies when there’s so much to do – course work, classes, informational sessions, case competitions, job search, career interviews , and before you know it, your term exams are right around the corner! I remember feeling blindsided somehow – “They’re already here? But I’ve only just started my program!”

But that’s just the way it is. In hindsight, having seven weeks for a term leaves you with both a feeling of “Has it only been that long?” as well as that of “But so much has happened already!!”, which is a good thing I guess. Having too many things to do is way better than having nothing to do and I am glad that my MBA program here has truly tested my time management skills. I can already say that I am more adept at managing time effectively today ( a wee little bit ) than I was at the start of my program only seven weeks ago. Another aspect that I am excited about embracing and improving is my team-building skills. Myriad opportunities here. Take for example, working with our core teams for the entire tenure of our first year, or recently, the exciting prospect of working with my new teams in Project One ( a seven-week long project, at the end of which teams pitch proposals to Huntington Bank, a major local bank in Ohio), the upcoming GE Case Competition as well as the Fisher Internal Case Competition.

Some of the cool things that happened last term -

  • Football! – As an international student, I have to say that I am mind-blown by the importance the people here give to football; simply put it is like a religion here - the sooner you absorb it, the better. Tailgates and simply sitting at home and watching the game on the big screen (when I didn’t get tickets) have all been super fun.
  • Healthy banter between Professor Campbell and Gray – This was a fun part of our Econ and Data Analysis classes. Enjoying the sarcastic comments each had to say about the other subject/prof, the back and forth ribbing and the general camaraderie shared between the two and with us. It didn’t hurt too, that they took our class out for drinks at the end of mid-term.
  • Social events -  Awesome opportunity to get to know your fellow classmates and second- years and make friends. There have been so many of these I can’t even count, and I know there will continue to be many more.
  • Info sessions – Learning about the culture and working of different companies, meeting with executives has been enriching. Not to mention all the free lunches.

All in all, it has been a packed first term and with a foot in the door on my second, I am readying myself for new developments and new challenges. I’m happy to be here. And I’m looking forward to a gorgeous two years of business school.

So here’s to new beginnings and a whole new life!


P&G Marketing Case Competition

This week I had the opportunity to participate in the first big case competition of the year on campus, which was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble (a consumer brand goods company based in Cincinnati, OH).  The case was marketing based, using a real P&G brand, and interacting with members of the brand management team that actually works on the product’s marketing strategy.  About 6 hours of time were devoted on Thursday for the teams of 4 to come up with a brand marketing strategy and develop a presentation, and then 5 hours on Friday were used to give each of the 10 teams involved a chance to present their ideas to marketing professors and professionals.  So, all in all, if you include the social events associated with the competition, it was about a 12 hour commitment.

Now, in case I haven’t mentioned this before, I do not intend to major in marketing for my MBA degree, so, some people might wonder why I wanted to dedicate that much time to a competition in a field that isn’t my primary interest.  The answer to that is really quite simple, and that is because there is much more to a competition than just the main functional area.  Case competitions give MBA candidates, like myself, the opportunity to work on things like time management, team skills, leadership skills, creating presentations, innovation, and presentation/communication skills.  All of those, to me, sound like skills that are crucial in order to be successful in the business world.  A case competition gives students the opportunity to work on all of those skills in a controlled environment, it really is a practical application training exercise.

In the military, we didn’t just go into a high risk activity without a degree of training in advance.  Before we went overseas, we would spend months or years training, refining our knowledge and skills, so that we would be more successful when we went downrange.  Training is never perfect, because all elements of real world scenarios can’t be included for a number of reasons, but training is still an important part of preparing for real world application.  Most of my colleagues and myself are getting MBA degrees in order to move into management, or leadership type roles after graduation.  And while the risks for an infantryman overseas and business executive clearly have some differences, both roles have inherent risks.  So it makes sense to work on the skills required to be successful at either in a training environment, which is something that case competitions provide.  Because people revert to their previous training and experiences in a high stress situation, I don’t want the first time I have to do something stressful, like need to sell an idea I have to a board of executives to be during my internship, or in my new career.

So, that is my rather long-winded answer, as to why I thought it made perfect sense for someone who wants to major in operations & logistics to be in a marketing case competition, and why I plan to be in several more competitions in various fields.

 

Here is my awesome team (from the left: Me, Lindsey, Jeff, and John) from the competition. In case anyone is wondering, we won.


Fisher MBA Internal Case Competition

Every winter, The Fisher College of Business holds an Internal Case Competition for the 1st Year MBAs. It is a typical case competition for the most part. Students form teams of four (typically between half and three-quarters of a graduating class participates, or between 60 and 100 students). Students arrive on campus early Friday morning and are given a case, or a 10 to 20 page document describing a business, its current industry conditions and a decision faced by management. Cases can either be traditional (a past business situation that has since been resolved) or live (a business situation the company is facing today). Teams have approximately 24 hours to formulate recommendations and prepare a presentation to be delivered to a panel of judges the following morning.  Judges tend to be alumni or professionals selected because they hold some expertise and/or knowledge of the case industry and its challenges. The Fisher Internal Competition is sponsored every year by Ernst & Young so many of the judges are consultants. The teams deliver a 25 minute presentation during which they are challenged by the judges with critical questions. The judging panel then decides upon a best presentation, best presenter and best Q&A award.

Last week I had the chance to be involved with the Fisher MBA Internal Case competition for the 2nd time, this year as one of the competition time keepers, which was quite a learning experience. Having competed in 3 case competitions last year (including the Internal), I wish I would have had the opportunity to be a timer before competing in any of them. Timing a room allowed me to listen to the deliberations the judging panel had after each presentation, as well as the final discussion when they selected the award winners. Many points arising in these discussions took me by surprise…

First was the discrepancy between what students believe to be important to win Case Competitions and what the judges emphasize in their evaluations. For example, in my experience during competitions, I remember being fairly worried about finishing all of our presentation within the time limit. While timing this year, only one of the four teams was able to complete their presentation, a result of the judges interrupting their progress with questions (and this team was not the final room winner). During the evaluation period, I was surprised that the judges placed little emphasis on whether or not a team finished. In fact, in one instance, they blamed themselves for a team’s inability to finish their presentation admitting that “they asked too many questions.”

Additionally, students tend to think that having four strong presenters is necessary to win a competition. However, it was evident during the presentations in my room, and during the judge’s deliberations, that the teams that worked collaboratively gave stronger presentations. And the teams that appeared to work the best had complimentary skill sets. There might be one or two very strong presenters on these teams, but there was also at least one team member who had very strong quantitative and analytical skills. That team member may not have even had a specific role in the presentation but might have stepped up to answer some of the more technical or numerically oriented questions.

Lastly, I was very intrigued when observing the judges deliberate over who would be the overall room winner. A handful of judges gravitated immediately to the team with the strongest presenters, or those members with the most poise, clarity, eye contact, etc.  However after 10 minutes of discussion, the judges shifted their focus to the specific recommendations or strategy presented by each group. They discussed the feasibility of each presentation and which strategy they agreed with. At one point, one of the judges said “if I were the CEO of this company, which of these teams would I want to hire to address this decision?” This question eventually swayed the other judges to vote for a team that did not deliver the best presentation, but had the soundest strategy.

In conclusion, if I were to compete in another case competition, I would have spent more time researching the backgrounds of the judges to better predict what they would emphasize in their evaluations!


That’s a Case!

It’s hard to believe we’re already into our second month of school!  Sometimes I wonder why I even bothered to bring my TV to my new house because I haven’t turned it on once since I moved in at the beginning of August.  The FTMBA program is definitely time consuming, but it is completely worth it.  However, I’m very much looking forward to the fact that we only have class on Friday for two more weeks!  There are so many great things to get involved in at Fisher, and we’ve already had some awesome events.

This past Thursday and Friday, I participated in the P&G Case Competition, and it was an unbelievable experience!  We have many opportunities to participate in case competitions during the course of the MBA program.  My team won the event, so we were pretty ecstatic about that as you can imagine.  It was a huge honor to win, especially because all of the other teams had such great ideas!  P&G holds the competition every year, where teams of 4 are given a marketing issue to tackle in 5 hours on Thursday night, and then present to the P&G team and judges on Friday.  It’s a very insightful experience and really gives you a glimpse into the kinds of issues you would face as a brand manager.  I loved it and am so grateful that P&G gave Fisher students the opportunity to participate!

P&G also gave us a goodie bag for winning, which being a poor college student, I am stoked about!  I am especially excited about the electric toothbrush :) Overall, it was a great experience and I strongly encourage you to participate next year!


The longest 2 days of your life (AKA the Case Competition)

This weekend Fisher College of Business and Whirlpool hosted the first MLHR internal Case Competition. The event began at 8am on Friday and ended at 4pm on Saturday- and we all needed the remainder of the weekend to recover from it.

Not for the faint of heart, a case competition provides teams with approximately 22 hours to come up with recommendations about how to solve a current business issue. My team went into the competition with a plan for staying on track- here’s what it looked like:

  • Spend the first 30 minutes individually reading the case and thinking about recommendations
  • Discuss the case for 1 hour and then divide the issues amongst group members
  • Individually tackle the business issues for 1.5 hours and then discuss findings with the rest of the group
  • Start working on the powerpoint presentation slides by 4pm
  • Practice the presentation by 8pm

Ha! All plans and schedules seemed to go out the window once we got started and hit a few snags. Here’s how things really went for my team:

  • Spent the first 45 minutes individually reading the case and thinking about recommendations
  • Discussed the case for 1.5 hours and then divided the issues amongst group members
  • Individually tackled issues for 1.5 hours
  • Spent 30 minutes talking about how tired and burnt-out we were feeling
  • Discussed our findings and recommendations for about 4 hours
  • Started working on the powerpoint presentation slides at about 7pm
  • Spent 1.5 hours working on Excel charts to add to the presentation
  • Reviewed and then debated each recommendation we had come up with
  • Finished the powerpoint presentation slides by 10:30pm
  • Decided to call it a night and practice the following morning

At 10:30pm on Friday night, I think everyone was feeling tired or frustrated and wondering what on earth had motivated us to sign up for such a grueling competition. But after the first round of presentations on Saturday, we all couldn’t stop smiling and talking about how much fun we had presenting our recommendations to Whirlpool. There’s nothing quite like presenting your recommendations to a panel of judges, addressing all the tough questions that they interrupt your presentation to ask, and then being able to pat each other on the back when you walk out of the presentation room still in one piece. And it didn’t hurt that there were plenty of cookies and pastries waiting for us after we presented. :)

"What's that- you say there will be cookies at this case competition? Ok- sign me up!"


MHLR Case Competition – Review of Day 1

Now that all of the excitement is over, I thought it would be a good time to write a post about the first ever MLHR Case Competition.  Not just the first ever at Fisher, but to my knowledge, the first grad HR competition ever, anywhere.  Case Competitions are common in business schools, but they are usually for MBA students.  One thing that the faculty here at Fisher as been telling us from day one is that it is critical for us as HR students to develop our business acumen.  We need to be able to understand not only the HR function, but how a business functions, as well as how our decisions as HR leaders will impact the business.  This case competition really drove that home for me.

From what I understand, most case competitions are designed such that participants receive a written case at the beginning of the competition and have 24 hours to analyze it, identify key issues, and develop a strategy for addressing them.  This case, however, was a live case sponsored by Whirlpool Corporation.  When we arrived on Friday morning, HR executives from Whirlpool presented us with an HR issue that they are currently facing.  We were then allowed 40 minutes to ask questions to gather as much information as possible before splitting off in teams to work on the issue.

The team I was a part of was made up of students who all worked as Graduate Assistants in the Graduate Programs Office at Fisher.  The team was Lauren Hall, Stacey Myers, Emily Rohn, and me.  I have to say, this was one of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of, which is a good thing since we were stuck with each other for a better part of 48 hours.  We essentially were locked in a breakout room at Fisher from 9:00am until 9:00pm.  I know many other teams were there much later than we were, but when we made our schedule that morning we set an end time of 8:00pm just to ensure we got enough sleep to be prepared for the presentation the following day.

Much of Friday is a blur of reading over presentation slides, doing research on key HR issues, calculating budgets and return on investment, with a few meals and an episode of The Office thrown in to recharge the batteries.  As stressful as this day was, it was actually a lot of fun to work on the challenges we were given and come up with a solution.  Plus, the stress of Friday was nothing compare to Saturday.  My next post will be about the presentation day for the competition.


Insider’s View of the 1st Annual Fisher MLHR Case Competition

This year GHRA (including Eva Verghese (president of GHRA) and some of the MLHR faculty) worked really hard to put together the first MLHR Case Competition at Fisher.  For our first year, there were eight AMAZING teams who were all trying to solve a “real-life” HR issue for Whirlpool. I was really worried about trying to solve a real-world HR issue as a first year because we haven’t had that many classes specifically for HR, yet. The great thing about the case competition was we had to work in teams of four, which had to include at least one first year and at least one second year, to make things a little more even. Here are some of my favorite things about the case competition:

1. Spending “quality time” with my friends who are 2nd years. I was fortunate enough to be on a team with 2nd years I’ve been friends with pretty much since school started. I’m 99.9% sure we learned a lot about each other in the 36 hours we spent together in Gerlach 250. We never really got at each other’s throats and we all pretty much knew how each other operated. Plus, everyone had fun and a good attitude (for the most part). It helps when you’re known as “the party team.”

2. Getting “face time” with executives from Whirlpool, Tween Brands and Children’s Highlights. We had to present in front of top executives from these companies, so the experience was great. In today’s business world, young people have to be prepared to present their ideas or even their internship projects to top executives.

3. Panera boxed lunches. Two words: Sierra Turkey. Cassie and I bonded over our new found love of the Sierra Turkey. They are served in these fun boxes with a sandwich, chips and a cookie. The best part is looking under the sandwich to see what cookie you’ve gotten. My team and I traded bites of each other’s to “test” all of them.

4. Seeing what Gerlach looks like at 2:30am. It is pretty darn quiet in Gerlach in the wee hours of a Saturday morning. It is very quiet at this time, but the restrooms are very clean and you can swipe in to the rooms that have projectors in there to practice your presentation.

5. Feedback from the judges after the presentations. Our team didn’t “win” so it scary going into a room of executives and hearing why they didn’t pick you to move on, but they were really nice about it and seemed genuinely eager to help us try to improve for another time. I know I learned a lot about how to improve my presentation skills and that I need to get over the nervousness that comes over me when I present something.

I definitely want to participate again next year. Hopefully I can convince my other team members to re-enroll as MLHR students for Winter Quarter, so they can participate as well. If I do it again next year, I will miss them terribly. Overall, it was a great success and I’m so happy to have been able to participate!

All of our hard work!

Cassie, Jue (John), David, Rebecca

If we look tired, we are. 1-3 hours of sleep = very sleepy team.


2010 International Graduate Logistics Case Competition

Yes folks, that IS a mouthful, I will admit!

Five second year MBA’s traveled to beautiful northwest Arkansas to participate in this competition, which was sponsored by Sam’s Club (which is headquartered in Bentonville, AR). The team consisted of Xia (Andrea) Huang, Mittal Haria, Raj Jaasthi, Parminder (Parry) Gandhi and myself.

There were 12 teams in attendance, and two were from out of the country – Sweden and Germany, to be precise. Each team was given the same case, and 24 hours to prepare a 25 minute presentation and be ready for 10 minutes of Q&A from a panel of judges.

For those of you who aren’t as familiar with case competitions… I’m including some pictures! It’s a hard task for five people to stay focused and continuously engaged for that long (especially when they’re all working on the same problem)! Our strategy was to use large sheets of paper to break down the specific types of analysis we wanted to do, the cost structure of the firm, the product offerings, as well as the exact goals and constraints that were presented. Each of us is skilled in different areas, so it was fun bouncing ideas off each other. Several of the team members have participated in several case competitions – so they brought some great ideas! My favorite was to align our recommendations to a slogan – we picked “CORE”. It’s amazing how easy it was for the judges to remember our slogan – in the feedback session, they specifically mentioned that they appreciated that.

Although our team did not make it into the final  three, I know that I personally found the experience very rewarding – it was a great group of students from around the world, and the folks from Sam’s Club and local businesses were very accommodating.

For those of you that may be questioning what there is to do in northwest Arkansas… I was pleasantly surprised by how vibrant downtown Fayetteville is. This is likely because of the diverse student body at the University of Arkansas in that town. There was a dueling piano bar, many excellent and exotic restaurants, night clubs, pubs with vast draft beer selections, and a slew of friendly people that were willing to suggest places for us newcomers to check out. In particular, I recommend Willy D’s Piano Bar and “The Fix”, which is a jazz/hip hop nightclub attached to Willy D’s. It was a great several days, but now it’s time to catch up on schoolwork!

Stacey

The team showing Buckeye pride!

Hard at work in the "war room."

Feeding the brain!

Taking a much-needed mini-break!

The "war room"


Friendly competition

Welcome back my friendly neighborhood stalkers! So this week I thought I would bring to you a little bit of the excitement I’ve been experiencing with my tax competitions. Here at the Fisher School of Business, we have the opportunity to participate in a couple different national tax competitions. Both are offered through one of the big 4 accounting firms. The earlier competition is the Deloitte Tax Case Study Competition. This competition invites various programs across the country to elect a team of four students. These students are then given a list of possible technical tax topics that may be covered on case day. After weeks of using up all available down time to review and familiarize yourself with said tax topics, the competition culminates in a five-hour session of intense tax battle within the confines of an abandoned (it’s Saturday) Deloitte office. Attempting to fulfill all requirements within those five hours is next to impossible and that’s the point. Deloitte wants to give potential and future professionals an idea of what some of the more demanding aspects of a career in tax may be.

The Deloitte Tax Team

Good looking bunch!

The results of the case study are sent to a central location where all the teams are scored and then ranked. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners receive $2,000, $1,000, and $500 a person with a scholarship going to the school to boot. An additional 7 teams are given honorable mentions with a $200 consolation prize going to individual team members. The results come in a about a week so if you never hear about the results from me just assume the worst! Haha.

As I am writing this, I am gearing up to have my first team meeting for the PWC xTax competition. This competition combines underclassmen and graduates alike in teams of five to propose solutions for hypothetical tax issues. From what I gather, this will involve tax theory as apposed to existing technical tax law or regulations. The teams are given a couple of weeks to develop a solution and then present this solution to a panel of PWC judges (taped presentation). One major difference with this competition is that there are multiple teams at every participating school. On a school level, winners receive a cash prize and are given a chance at competing at the national level. Five teams from around the country are selected as finalists and are flown to Washington DC. As you can probably imagine, I am really excited to give this competition my best shot.

My advice to anyone ambitious enough to seek out these opportunities: be dedicated and run with it! Find out what you can as you’re gearing up to come into the program next fall and go out of your way to prepare ahead of time (while you still have it). So far, they have been extremely beneficial experiences and I think anyone would do well to add this sort of experience to your list of professional qualifications.


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