“The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.”
Corporate competitions have been an integral and consistent part of my MBA journey. Especially in the 2nd year, when the entire classroom program was shifted to online mode, there was hardly any day when I wasn’t involved in brainstorming ideas for any competition. Hearing about being the Top D2C Champion from IIM Kashipur and my Institute being ranked 4th, particularly when I was finishing my MBA journey, was the best way I could have summed up the significance of all my efforts.
Participating and investing time in multiple corporate competitions is indeed a difficult decision, especially amidst the conventions of a B-School, where a student has various academic commitments, projects, case studies with sacrosanct deadlines. There have been times when we had overlapping deadlines-prioritizing became the key factor there. There have been times where my team had to discuss and devise strategies working remotely, or work on competitions during the end term examinations as well. However, the extent to which these competitions enhanced my managerial learning by providing a parallel exposure to real-time industry-wide business problems, and a platform to evaluate my approach to these problems, made me keep the spirit alive and kept me going at every point.
During this time, I explored various domains, ranging from proposing a new product line in Market research for Thoucentric Bottoms-Up to preparing a Business Development Plan for CarEasy Spark. While proposing Supply Chain strategy for Tier-2 cities in the Flipkart Wired helped me gain perspective of the logistics industry, building a healthcare ecosystem in Infosys Ingenious and Optum Stratethon provided the insights of the technological advancements of this sector. Participating in 3M-CII helped us build a tech enabled product with a social impact. AGS Horizon navigated us through the emerging domain of hyperlocal fintech. In addition to this, I also participated in multiple B-School level competitions and managed to win a few. With this, I ended up with 2 National Winners, 1 Runners Up, 3 National Finalist, and 5 National Semi-Finalists in my tally.
Some key aspects that MBA aspirants should keep in mind, though these are not exhaustive:
- In the initial year, experiment with building your team for the first few competitions until you get the right dynamics. Try to build a core team that will have zilch or constructive friction and no free-riders. Find members who have expertise, say it be market research, designing or technical domain knowledge. Motivate them. Teach them. Learn from them. And improve each other.
- Making the most of your network, connecting with industry professionals to gain relevant key insights is of paramount importance.
- The execution should be kept in mind so the idea should be minimalistic. Be thorough with your ground research and workflow. Try incorporating frameworks/models learnt in class.
- During the presentations you need to ensure that you cover all the important content in the stipulated time frame. Try to make it as crisp and concise as possible. Ideally you can follow the approach – Problem Statement, Research, Insights, Ideas, Feasibility, Financials and Timeline.
Consistency and meaningful participation in competitions can increase your MBA learning to a great extent. Instead of taking it as only participating, take these as learning curves. If you want to make the most of your MBA journey, competitions undoubtedly provide a platform for you to learn and unlearn. My suggestion to juniors will be to participate in maximum number of competitions, keep yourself updated about recent developments and innovations, and always keep the hunger alive.
About the Author:
Shubham is an Industrial Engineer by qualification. He has completed his MBA from IIM Kashipur (Batch 2019-21) and has been recognized as the Top Competitive Leader from the Institute featuring him in Forbes India. He is an IT professional with 2 years of experience in ZS Associates. In his past time, he likes sketching & playing video games. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.