It’s begun! Case Competitions.

It’s begun! Case Competitions.

So, after reading all the posts you guys must be taking MBA to be synonymous to fun, frolic, and excitement. If you do, you are absolutely right!  The MBA program is turning out to be a really exciting time to learn, experience, and implement. ‘Learning’ through a mix of people – professors, classmates, and project partners, ‘experience’ by actually interacting with CEO’s, CMO’s, Directors of top notch Fortune 500 companies, and ‘implement’ in real business problems through various opportunities such as case competitions.

Just a couple of weeks back we participated in the P&G Case Competition where we implemented our classroom learnings and professional experiences to help P&G address one of their key business issues. With Managers coming in and interacting on a personal level to explain about their problems and at the same time listen to what concerns we had was an experience in itself. Let me tell you three things which made the experience appear like an actual business premise.

1. Time Frame:  Having a serious case competition pertaining to a real business challenge for a client as huge as P&G barely one month into the program was a huge advantage to us. We didn’t have as much to worry about as the second year students. Moreover, the case was required to be submitted and presented in just over 24 hours. We could participate without actually missing any of our classes or other commitments.

2. Battleground: The battleground was neither the library nor the internet. And guess what, it wasn’t P&G’s financial statements either. It was a 10 feet by 12 feet room with a board and 4 minds in it. The time for coming up with a feasible solution was 4 hours. This actually fostered creative business thinking and working our minds rather than crunching numbers or ‘googling’. Advantages – learning in an innovative setting rather than sinking under a huge pile of data.

3. The Reward: What better way to celebrate the completion of the case competition than by hanging around with the trio – Professor Gray, Professor Campbell, and Professor Matta – over beer at The Varsity Club.

With the P&G factor and the M factor (Professor Matta) working in tandem, the entire experience was a great learning experience as well as a lot of fun. It was not only me, who found out the competitiveness of my peers, but also the P&G team who acknowledged that our batch turned out to be the most competitive and creative batch in the history of this competition.

Next milestones – Michigan State University Supply Chain Case Competition, National MBA Human Capital Case Competition, and Internal Case Competition.

My first case competition: Swiffer, anyone?

I am still deciding on my MBA concentration. So far, marketing looks like my favorite one. With an IT background, it is hard to build up a resume showing marketing experience. I assume many of us are in the same situation, so I would suggest to use the opportunities offered at Fisher.  This week I participated in my first case competition: P&G Case Competition. It was a two day event, 9 teams ready to give their best. Big was my surprise when the case was about a product called Swiffer. This is one of the curious facts about being an international student: some popular products in the U.S may be completely unknown to you. So I had never heard about Swiffer or even tried one. It is a cleaning product that is very successful in the U.S and “created” a whole new category of products. The challenge: Prepare a case and presentation with recommendations to increase the sales of Swiffer up to 2 billion dollars by 2020 (increasing market penetration and loyalty).

First, the P&G staff presented the case and shared with us some important facts about Swiffer. Immediately,  we had to meet with our teams during 4 hours and prepare the presentation. The next day each team presented the case to a jury of top Fisher professors and P&G brand managers.  The case competition required hard work but it was also a lot of fun. I think all the teams did a great job, amazing ideas were presented, and you can tell everyone was very passionate. I really feel the experience helped me a lot in understanding what a marketing career is about. In addition, I had the chance to practice my speech, teamwork and creative side. My team did not win but I feel very proud of our work. Congratulations to the winning team!

This was my first case competition, and I enjoyed it. In January will be the internal Fisher Case Competition – if you’re a current MBA student, I highly recommend you participate!

Are you ready to Ace your case?

This is a very exciting week for most of the first year MBA students. We have been hearing about the challenging Internal Case Competition since the Orientation week back in September and the competition is already here. Time keeps flying!!!

Many students have some experience with case competitions such as the P&G case, Green Case competition, and Project one. These case competitions offer a range of benefits: the experience of putting a team together, working on a topic which can be unfamiliar, and a chance to interact with the case sponsors which helps to develop Fisher’s relationship with companies who may look to hire MBA graduates in the future.

The winners of this internal case competition will represent Fisher in the Big 10 competition across the colleges in the Midwest offering even more exposure to the graduate students, the CIBER international competition, and many other opportunities available for us This year a very successful team of second years are representing Fisher in the very prestigious and competitive Wake Forest MBA Marketing Summit Case Competition. Maybe you can be one of the Fisher representatives next year!!!

This is a good time to show all what we have learned so far and show all the development got from the EPI class last quarter. The class helped us to develop confidence and also simple errors were fixed with constructive help as we progressed through the quarter.

Finally, the competition offers a really good opportunity to get exposed to high level executives and professionals to present a case / strategy and be able to defend it. As we progress through our careers it will be a common facet and something we will deal with on a regular basis.

Everyone get ready to show your best. The judges will be tough on us!!

Good luck to everyone!

A Cloudy Winter

Knowlton School of Architecture
Knowlton School of Architecture

Well it’s official. The winter cloud has parked itself over Columbus until mid March. Although at times it can be cold and dreary, there is plenty that has been keeping my mind off the weather and on other things. As I mentioned in my last post I joined the ULI Case Competition. It has been a lot of work since getting our location (Downtown San Diego) and lots of hours in the Architecture building (see picture) which is across from the business school. My self and the other MBA student in my group have been busy building a proforma for Residential, Retail, & Office properties to see if what our architects want to build is feasible. So far so good but I am sure it will all change.

Along with the ULI Competition to keep my mind off the weather, I am on a team for the Fisher Internal Case Competition. This will be my first actual case competition with a true business focus. Kind of looking forward to it although it is going to take up my whole weekend.

And lastly, during these cold dreary times, one needs to engage in some physical activity. Well to fill that small space left in my schedule, my first inter-mural soccer match is this Friday. Wish me luck since I haven’t played soccer since I was 12 years old. I wonder if anyone is bringing orange slices?3498947030_e35cbccf0c

Any blog requests? Food reviews? Bar Reviews? Class thoughts? Bueller?


A Little Pre-Holiday Good News

Yesterday I got the email that I had been waiting for all week.

Dear Michael Hrostoski:

Congratulations!  We would like to invite you to participate as a finalist in the 2010 Wake Forest MBA Marketing Summit, to be held February 4-6, 2010 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.  We were very impressed with your team’s submission, and are confident that you will be able to provide some excellent solutions for our sponsor, IBM.

Me: “Whoo-hoooooooo!”

The Wake Forest MBA Marketing Summit Case Competition is one of the most prestigious case competitions in the country. Last year’s finalists were: The University of Chicago (Booth), The University of California at Berkeley (Haas), The University of Virginia (Darden), The University of Washington (Foster), Harvard University (HBS), Notre Dame University (Mendoza), Wake Forest University (Babcock)  and The Ohio State University (Fisher).

This year there were 83 submissions from MBA programs nationally and internationally, so to send a Fisher team two years in a row is a great accomplishment in itself. Having participated in several case competitions last year, I learned first-hand how great our MBA business communication department is (especially considering that the MBA business communication department is just Marc Ankerman).

This year’s team was hand-selected from our Big 10 and CIBER case competition teams. We spent several early morning and weekend hours during this incredibly busy quarter discussing ideas for our application video, working on the script, shooting footage, and working on application essays. Chad Stutz is magic behind the camera, so we turned out a very professional yet hilarious application video that will be premiered at Fisher Follies. This year’s team (Vandana, Eduard, Jeremy, Seth, Chad, Ryan and myself) is ready to do whatever it takes to come home with the grand prize of $50,000. With the varying skill sets and backgrounds on this team I think we have a great chance.

Wish us luck!

Mike ^_^

Yes, This Is Another Post About The P&G Case Competition

Thursday October 5th, 2009 was a very exciting day for the Fisher College of Business first year full-time MBA students… our first official case competition! For those not in the know, case competitions are basically the main battleground for intercollegiate MBA superiority… it used to be dodge-ball, but the AACSB decided that there wasn’t much academic merit to that. The basics of a case competition are as follows:

  • Create a team of students (usually four)
  • Read the business case (these can be between 2 and 50 pages)
  • Identify the issues
  • Develop a plan to resolve the issues
  • Prepare a presentation to communicate your plan for the “board of directors” – panel of judges

(taken from the Copenhagen Business School, “What is a Case Competition?” Website)

Our case competition was no different. Sponsored by Procter & Gamble (aka P&G as the cool kids call it), we were tasked to gather a team of four people, hopefully including someone who knew something about finance. The group I was in was lacking on the financials, but we sure made up for it in spirit and earnestness! The night before the competition, we tried to prepare for what might come up… but we had know idea what to prepare for since this was a completely new experience, all we knew was that there would be something involving a product that P&G produced. So we spent some time reviewing P&G marketing strategy and consumer insight. We also looked at some of the successful presentation PowerPoints provided by my mentor in the MBA Marketing Association and all around nice guy Mike Hrostoski to see what was deemed important information. Looking back, this may have been overkill, but I think it really helped us when the competition actually started.

The day of the competition arrived and the P&G representatives gave us the background and mission: Sell more Crest Whitestrips! Then they shot a pistol in the air and we all scampered off to our respective rooms to case compete. I’m kidding about the pistol shooting, but everyone did move pretty fast, unlike other case competitions that could last anywhere from 24-36 hours, the P&G case alloted only 4 hours. That is 4 hours to define what the problems facing Crest Whitestrips are, generate ideas for a solution, refine the solution, create financial and make the presentation. As anyone who has made a presentation before knows, that itself can take up to 4 hours. Needless to say it was a really intense 4 hours. I won’t bore you with the details, but here is the board from our room when we were done:

Our P&G Competition Board
Our P&G Competition Board

I thought we developed some very good ideas, including a high-end Crest Whitestrips dispenser ala the iPod dispensers you see in classy places. The next day were presentations each of the 13 teams gave 15 minute presentations to a “board” consisting of P&G representatives and marketing professors. Everybody’s presentations were great! It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it for 4 hours. There wasn’t a dud in the bunch, it shows just how great Fisher students are. It was also great to see people present who you never get to see present because they aren’t in your EPI section. I got to design our team’s presentation, which was fun, but very stressful, you can see it here: Team one PNG CASE COMPETITION Slides. In the end we ended up winning, which was really exciting and a big surprise because every team was so good. But not a bad end to my first case competition, looking forward to the next time, with even more time! Also big/major props to my team 1 case team mates: Brian Blewitt, Prasant Balakrishnan and Nancy Dadas, you guys are the best! (PS: everyone who competed in the P&G case competition got goodie bags with Crest Whitestrips Advance Seal in them. Having previously used their strips and been disappointed, these Advance Seal ones, change everything! they are amazing, go get them. thank you.)

Case competitions: the MBA sport of choice

This weekend a couple dozen of the first year students participated in the P&G Case Competition. I’m proud to say that one of my mentees was on the winning team. Congrats to the uber-talented Shay Merritté and his teammates, Nancy, Brian and Prasant!

Case competitions have become the varsity sport of MBA programs all over the world. Teams practice for weeks or months, travel to the competition site, and engage in intense competition with teams from other top MBA programs. In most competitions the teams only have 24 or 36 hours to read the case, form their strategy, perform the necessary analysis, come up with solid recommendations, create their presentation and get a couple hours of sleep before presenting the next day. The experience is second to none.

Each year, the Fisher College has an internal case competition for the first year students. Faculty, alumni and friends of the Fisher College volunteer their time to serve as guest judges. The winners of each room make up a pool from which the college chooses the best students to represent Fisher at the national case competitions such as the Big 10 Case Competition and the CIBER MBA Case Competition.

Last year I had the pleasure of competing in three case competitions. My respective teams placed 2nd in the Get Green Business Case Competition, 1st place in our room at the Fisher College Internal Case Competition and 2nd place at the Big 10 Case Competition. This year a group of us are applying to compete at the Wake Forest MBA Marketing Summit, one of the most prestigious case competitions in the country with a $50,000 prize. We sent a Fisher team last year, so I’m hoping that we make the cutoff of eight teams once again.

For the first years at Fisher, I strongly encourage you to participate in the internal case competition. It’s the closest you’ll get to presenting to the board until you get back out into the real world. And you know what they say, “practice makes perfect.” I think we had around 80% of our class participate last year, so it would be nice to see your class raise the bar even higher. Unless you’re getting married or getting surgery that weekend, I expect to see you there.

And for the few students who get chosen to be on the Big 10 and CIBER teams, you are in luck. Professor Marc Ankerman is great in the classroom, but he is even better one-on-one. Being part of the Big 10 team last year was like having a personal public speaking coach. I learned so much about preparing and delivering effective presentations, which served me well when I presented my recommendations to the HR executive team this summer at Deutsche Post DHL. Ankerman is the real deal and the Fisher College is lucky to have him to give us a little polish before we re-enter the workforce.

Now I find myself on the other side, teaching presentation skills to a classroom of 40 undergraduate students twice a week. I don’t know what I would do had I not participated in the case competitions last year. When my students ask me a question, I just think, W.W.A.D.?

Mike ^_^

2009 CIBER MBA Case Competition Champions (Seth, Annie, Ryan and Chad)