IIM Kashipur has been building a culture among the students to participate in the case competitions and find ways to express themselves by competing with the other B-schools. Last year, IIM Kashipur saw success in numerous competitions making the culture even stronger. We got to know about corporate case competitions after joining the MBA program at IIM Kashipur. The first year of MBA was no less than a roller-coaster ride, spent in learning key business concepts and time management, we decided to participate diligently in the second year. It took us a while to understand how the case competitions work and what needs to be done to crack them. Firstly, we would say, selecting a good and coordinating team is of utmost importance. A team should consist of members who respect each other’s opinions and believe in having constructive discussions. The strengths and weaknesses of members should be known and utilized well. Above all, there must be strong bonding and a 100% commitment towards teamwork. Three of us worked together on an academic project in the first year and gelled up well. Consequently, we decided that we will team up for case competitions and started preparing for the same. We focused specifically on the presentation skills and having done multiple class presentations in the first year helped us a lot in this aspect.
The next thing is to select the right competition. With the busy curriculum of the MBA, it is difficult to compete in all the case competitions. Therefore, it is better to research and select a few competitions based on your domain, interest, or industry and work hard towards understanding and approaching those competitions. At the end of the first year, we had prepared a list of all the competitions and their tentative dates that we were expecting to be floated during our second year. We even tried to plan our electives and other curriculum activities accordingly.
Coming to the competitions, no matter how much you prepare for the case challenges, you will not be able to reach the case study round, unless you clear the preliminary elimination rounds which are usually quiz or simulation rounds. Hence, it is important to take them seriously with a fitting approach specific to each competition. It is important to stay calm and focused even when you are not able to make through the first round in a few competitions. We always tried to stay positive and looked forward to moving ahead.
The main challenge comes after clearing the first round. It is important to understand the case problem clearly. The companies generally organize a webinar or doubt clearing sessions after floating the case. We preferred to attend these sessions — well prepared with our doubts to get everything clarified. Also, efforts should be made to understand the ‘expectations of the jury’ and ‘judgement parameters’ set by the organizer.
L’Oréal Sustainability Challenge 2020
L’Oréal Sustainability Challenge was a challenge of ideation, where we had to provide an innovative solution on how L’Oréal could enable its consumers to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the use of its products. Now that is a challenge specific to the behavioral change of L’Oréal’s consumers and at the same time open to any idea which is feasible and scalable to the world. Hence, we focussed on the novelty and simplicity of our idea. We believe that extensive research from reliable sources and brainstorming are the keys to get a novel idea.
For the preparation of the Grand Finale, we thought and discussed on every aspect being brought to our notice by the mentors from L’Oréal. We prepared the final presentation following their suggestions. We tried to keep it as simple as possible to understand, such that it included all the nitty-gritty of the idea. We also kept backup calculations in the appendix. We felt that the Q&A session plays the most crucial role in winning a competition, the jury would be ready to dive deep in your solution and we had prepared for every possible question in advance, at least the ones we could think of.
Winning the L’Oréal Sustainability Challenge was an enriching experience and gave us some key learnings. We faced quite a few challenges as we had our midterm exams just before the final round and the virtual setup had its concerns to deal with. But with some luck, and some sleepless nights of hard work, we are happy that we were able to sail through.
“If you try to win, you might lose, but if you do not even participate, you lose for sure”
So, participation should be done leaving all the expectations aside. Winning or losing depends on a lot of factors that are difficult to define. Some things are not in our hands. That said, we can always focus on a few factors which have the potential to create a difference.
If we are to say three things that helped us in our journey, it would be Confidence, Simplicity, and Dedication.
Abhinav Yadav, Saransh Jain, Udit Arunav (MBA Batch 2019–21)
National Winners, L’Oréal Sustainability Challenge 2020