November 19, 2017 by Pamela Ho
Mark your calendars, because on November 25th, 2017 PBSN is hosting our annual Case Competition! Whether you’re new to case competitions or already an expert, keep reading to equip yourself with the tools to ace this competition and for an exclusive interview with last year’s winners.
WHAT IS A CASE COMPETITION?
In essence, a case competition is an event where teams of students receive a case study to prepare in four hours. The case will outline a problem a company is facing or an opportunity they are looking into, and teams must analyze the case information and develop a strategy to help the company achieve their goals. Case competitions are a great opportunity to mirror industry practices and apply technical knowledge to real life scenarios.
PBSN’s Case Competition will also be judged by HBA2s during the first round and Shopify representatives during the final round. Their questions are a chance to test your quick thinking, develop practical skills, and gain a greater insight into the business industry!
While this can all seem daunting, case competitions are not about what solution you choose but how you support your ideas. Don’t feel like you need to be a business expert to do well, PBSN’s Case Competition is intended to be a learning experience for interested students. We’re even hosting a Case Competition Educational in partnership with Ivey’s Case Competition Club on Wednesday, November 22nd from 5-7pm in Ivey Rm 1130 to go over basic structure and strategy!
Now for an inside look at what you can expect on November 25th, here’s an exclusive interview with Lisa Chen, Saad Afroz, and Lillie Sun; members of last year’s winning team!
1. HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR TEAM FOR PBSN’S CASE COMPETITION LAST YEAR?
Lillie: I asked my friends, especially those in my business 1220 class or just anyone that I’d find easy to work with. It is so important to find someone that you’d genuinely want to be with and someone with strong interpersonal skills (and not just technical skills).
Lisa: We also made sure everyone had a different mix of skills, whether it be people that were stronger in finance or in marketing, overall it’s important to balance your team. However, the most important trait I looked for was how well someone could potentially execute our presentation. I think being able to delegate tasks and trust my team was vital in having having a strong sense of teamwork.
2. ON THE DAY OF THE COMPETITION, WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION?
Saad: It was definitely fast paced. You start with a presentation on how to solve a case and you’re essentially thrown into the competition. Since no one is monitoring you, no one cares if you’re working hard, so it’s your responsibility to finish the case.
Lisa: It was definitely a lot to take in! Our group found our own little space to grind out the case but if it’s your first case competition you’ll definitely have moments where you don’t exactly know what you’re doing, and that’s fine.
3. WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF CASE COMPETITION?
Lillie: Realizing that while you have four hours to prepare, the most important thing is the ten minutes you present in. You need to make sure your team has a good flow and consistency; so at a certain point you need to stop working on the minor details of your solution and focus on creating a great presentation. Also, figuring out the solution as a team and integrating five people’s ideas was definitely tricky as well.
Saad: Though four hours may seem like a long time, collaborating with people itself took up much more time than we expected. Under the time constraint, we concluded that focusing on presenting and speaking was just as important as the content. Another challenge was recognizing what type of case we were solving. For example, last year we definitely had a marketing focussed case, which meant that it was more beneficial to create a well thought out marketing plan than stress too much about the financials. It’s important to target the most important goals of the company, because there isn’t time for everything.
4. WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE COMPETITORS THIS YEAR?
Lisa: Read through the case and understand what it’s asking, come to a unanimous decision at the beginning, and go from there.
Lillie: Don’t forget about the presentation, they only see what you do for the ten minutes!
Saad: Be confident and run with whatever you have. Even if you don’t think you have the greatest solution, present it as if you do.
5. FINAL QUESTION: IF YOU COULD SUM UP THE CASE COMPETITION IN ONE WORD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Lisa: Rewarding. Lillie: Hectic! Saad: Good time?
Now that you have all of the tools you need, make sure to sign-up to compete in this year’s PBSN Case Competition! You can register in person at Somerville House from November 20-21 from 12-5pm, or anytime before November 23rd at 11:59pm online by registering using this form, and paying using this form! The fee to compete is $5 for PBSN members and $10 for non-members.