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.