The major impetus to participate in corporate competitions, for me, was to take classroom learning a notch higher. I saw corporate competitions as a way to learn about the working of various industries. Also, made me realize the ways through which they deal with the business challenges. It felt like we were hired consultants. It was believed that we had unrestricted resources to analyze the industry’s competitive landscape to come up with out-of-the-box and innovative ideas.
The case studies were a great opportunity to learn from each other in the team. Eventually, we all became the jack of many trades. These competitions were often intense with stringent deadlines. Managing the time and efficiently dealing with our curriculum and competitions simultaneously are a few of the things we learnt during the process.
We, as a team, always spent a considerable amount of time reading and analyzing the case. We ensured that we read between the lines and understand the root of the problem at hand. This initial understanding, I think, is very crucial in getting the context right and setting a direction to the entire brainstorming process that follows.
I made detailed notes of my inferences from the case, important case facts to be considered and my analysis of them. This acted as a guide in the entire process of solving and helped us in staying the course for the problem at hand.
The next critical aspect I believe is identifying the right target group (TG). Therefore, we carefully defined our TG through thorough primary and secondary research. Then, followed the customization of our strategies and ideas to cater to the TG. Focussing a large share of our effort and time in getting these right was crucial in providing solutions with business value to the organization.
A balanced and diverse team helps greatly in approaching the case strategically. The following are a few factors I think if considered while selecting a team could ease out the entire process of solving the case:
- If the case is not domain specific and is a general business problem, then it is extremely helpful to form a team with members from different backgrounds for different perspectives.
- Having a team member adept at tools like Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Photoshop could also be of great help in better structuring and presenting the team’s ideas.
- It may happen, many a time that the case does not fall under the domain expertise of any of the team members. In such cases, thorough research could help make up for the lack of previous knowledge and expertise. Team members with a knack and interest for extensive research will help.
- It is not necessary that everyone in a team should be an exceptional public speaker. But it definitely does give an edge to have a team member who is articulate in putting forth ideas using the right words.
I think learning in a B-School is an amalgamation of both, the college curriculum and corporate competitions. Both of these perfectly complement each other. The concepts taught as a part of the college curriculum are a foundation to help tackle real-time business problems. It provides a structured approach in going about the case study.
The insights obtained from the approach and solution of other participating teams in the corporate competitions is unmatchable. This greatly helps in building a perspective during classroom teaching. Correlating the concepts taught with these ideas and solutions helps understand their practical applicability. Thus, both are two sides of the same coin and it is important to strike a balance and manage both.
Asian Paints CANVAS 2018 was my most glorious victory because we ended up winning the national round. With every passing competition, I definitely became more proficient in Excel, PPT, etc. There is no second thought that case study competitions help you gain knowledge, industry insights and develop skills. Besides, it helps you build a well-rounded personality.
Case study competitions are a great avenue for some quality networking. You learn from your own teammates and get a chance to meet some of the brightest minds from other B-Schools. Some corporates also provide mentorship programs. This is one of a kind opportunity that allows us to closely work with industry experts. Their line of thought and suggestions have greatly helped me shape my outlook and widen my perspective.
Conceptualizing an idea is a task, but putting it forth in a way that helps your audience understand and appreciate the reasoning behind it is a milestone in itself. With each succeeding competition, I grew better at structuring my ideas and presenting them succinctly and effectively.
According to me, corporate competitions are all about tenacity. Never get disheartened if you do not make it big in one competition. Remember, all the research and brainstorming has only made you better technically and as a person.
Enjoy the process! All the nights you brainstorm together as a team, the short deadlines, the adrenaline rushes, and the new people you get to interact with and learn from, the experience is incomparable. Participate with all your enthusiasm and energy, and PPIs and awards will follow. All the very best!