Hello all! I hope the world is treating you well. It certainly is me. I just returned from the 3rd Annual Illinois Strategy Case Competition, which took place in Champaign, IL. It was a great weekend overall. I went in a little nervous but confident and left a little richer, with great experience in teamwork, leadership, and public speaking.
It all started with a networking event, where we got to meet a diverse group of teams, from as close as Purdue to as far away as UConn and Baylor. Knowing it was a competition, I was expecting a bit of a hostile crowd and some psyching out, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even Iowa State, our fierce rivals in all things sporting, were extremely collegial and pleasant. In fact, we left there pretty good friends!
The next morning the real competition started at 9 AM by handing out the case, which was about a Korean software company NCsoft. We had 23 hours to read it, understand it, and present a strong strategy going forward. My team and I retired to our workroom and started in on it. I won’t bore you with the details – mostly because the majority of our time was either working powerpoint or explaining what MMORPGs are – but it was a late night. We stayed there until 1 AM and our crankiness certainly showed, manifesting itself in quite a bit of conflict near the end. We did get back to the hotel to get 4-5 hours’ sleep though, which I think is the most out of any of the teams. As I understand it, the Michigan team never left their workroom and just napped for an hour.
The next morning we had to turn our presentation in at 9 and present at 11. We did our best to win the judges over and the judges – mostly Illinois alumni volunteering from their industry jobs – did their best to remain stone-faced. It certainly wasn’t hard for some of them, considering the MMORPG subject matter! In the end, we made it on to the final round along with our new friends Iowa State. We repeated the presentation to a new set of judges in the big auditorium for the top place and we won!
Obviously I was excited to win and get the money, but I don’t think it was the most important thing to come out of the weekend. I decided to get my MBA because I wanted to become a better speaker and leader. This weekend was a microcosm of my development here. My speaking was at the very least good enough not sink our team, so that’s a good start. My leadership was certainly tested, having to navigate through the group conflict and ambiguity in order to meet a tough deadline.
So there you have it. That’s my experience in my first case competition. While you certainly don’t have to come to Tippie to learn from and succeed in these, the preparation from the faculty and the team members you have are simply amazing and put you in a position to win.