Case Study Competitions – How to make the best of opportunities!

Hear out Shubham who 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.

“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:

  1. 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.
  2. Making the most of your network, connecting with industry professionals to gain relevant key insights is of paramount importance.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

TFC-The Finance Club|IIM Kashipur

The Finance Club is one of the pioneer academic clubs initiated towards enhancing knowledge in the field of finance through innovative activities such as events, hands-on workshops, knowledge sharing sessions, and guest lectures from industry experts.

The club organizes innovative events throughout the year to enhance the knowledge of finance among the student community in various concepts such as trading, risk management, and investment strategies. BullsEye, a virtual simulation game that was conducted online recently saw overwhelming participation where students had an experience closer to real-time trading. Accrual Madness, Trade Wiz, Aestimatus, Open Outcry, The Simulation Challenge, High Stakes were some of the events conducted over the past year where students from various top business schools actively participated and gained exposure to various financial concepts such as risk management, portfolio management, fund allocation, etc.

TFC believes in practical application of financial knowledge and hence, Pragati, IIM Kashipur’s student-run investment fund was set up during October 2019 to foster investment knowledge among the student community. The fund was set up with the objective to provide investors with an opportunity for long-term capital appreciation by investing in a diversified portfolio comprising large and MidCap Securities. Students and alumni of the institution have actively participated in the fund by investing through multiple fund-raising windows and gained knowledge of its working. The fund is managed by the members of the club under the guidance of Prof. Dilip Kumar and has consistently outperformed its benchmark index Nifty 50 since its launch. Members of the club are actively involved in carrying out market research, portfolio tracking, and publishing monthly factsheets on the fund’s performance. The setup of the fund helped in real-time tracking of the securities market for the club members and other student’s investors during the challenging times of the pandemic which helped in formulating and analyzing various investment strategies to effectively monitor the risk volatility and performance of the portfolio.

The club published articles and newsletters regularly on current financial events through Vit Pratiti and The Financial Gazette. The club has started to post a new series of articles and content related to the working of various financial instruments and analysis of individual companies and conglomerates on social media in order to collaborate and share knowledge with the external community

Recently, the Club has partnered with StockGro, a mobile application for virtual trading and investing where students from leading b-schools get real-time experience in trading and portfolio management. Over 200+ students actively registered and participated in daily contests which helped them to stay updated with the current trends in the stock markets

The Finance Club conducts a number of knowledge-sharing sessions throughout the academic year. A variety of topics such as personal finance, investment, and trading strategies are discussed over a series of sessions which enhances the knowledge of working of stock markets and trading. Special sessions were also held on the discussion on Annual Budget 2019 and its special features which saw participation from more than 100 students.

The club hosted Coalescence – The Finance Summit in association with the academic forum to bridge the industry-university gap. Rakesh Singhania, CFO of Wells Fargo Bank, India, participated as a keynote speaker and shared his experience on how industries navigated adversity in the new era of the post-pandemic. The lecture was attended by over 100 student participants who had an opportunity to interact and gain insights on challenges faced by the financial markets. The club also hosted Money Matters, a guest lecture session in the presence of Prof. Dilip Kumar on discussing various investment-related topics concerning Pragati. The club also aided the students in preparing for competitive examinations by participating in FLIP National Challenge and CFA Research Challenge.

In this way, the club ensures that students get the essence of finance as a domain of management. It helps the students to learn about the scope in this domain and select the best course of action for their future choices. In nutshell, The Finance club fosters a culture for finance within the realms of IIM Kashipur.

OnYourMark- The Marketing Club| IIM Kashipur

OnYourMark (OYM), the Marketing Club of IIM Kashipur, was established on 16th January 2014 by the students to promote and nurture the knowledge of marketing in the IIM Kashipur community. The raison d’être for OYM is to create an amenable ethos towards marketing. OYM strives to create enthusiasm among the students for the domain of marketing and guide them to explore their careers in this field. As it has rightly been said in the business world, “Marketing is not anyone’s job… It’s everyone’s job!”. The club seeks to make the student community well-versed with the recent happenings in the field of marketing to aid their industry knowledge and recruitment preparation.

OYM oversees several initiatives to achieve the club’s:

Vision: To improve the marketing acumen of IIM Kashipur & build a culture of Marketing studies.

Mission: Organizing student-centric events to involve maximum participation and benefits for all.

With the growing use of the online medium, the club adapted to new modes of learning and incorporated new initiatives to emanate marketing knowledge through channels like social media and video conferencing. The following are some key activities undertaken by the club to foster accentuated learning:

  • Forevision Workshops: OYM facilitated Marketing Workshops from Forevision in Digital Marketing and Advanced FMCG sales techniques training which had successful participation of 100+ students. These help them gain practical exposure to the current trends and tools through real-life case studies, exercises, and live demos which are increasingly used in businesses nowadays and enable them to think out of the box, just like a marketer is supposed to. 
  • CutPaste Article series: Carefully curated articles are handpicked by OYM and extracts illustrating the concepts are shared with the batch in an email blast to familiarize and update them with the latest, modern terminologies in a short period. This allows them to quickly grasp these concepts and also gives them an option to read the full article provided to enhance their understanding.
  • Open house discussions: Discussions on current events as well as concepts that students learn in classrooms are further deliberated to gain deeper insights into the subject matter. 
  • Guidance in case-studies: Conducting in-depth discussions on the cases in the curriculum to better equip the students with the principles used in a light-hearted environment. This gives the students confidence to contribute in class and further their knowledge.
  • Encouraging a culture of corporate competitions: Corporate competitions give students a chance to apply curriculum learnings and search for viable solutions to real-world business problems. OYM identifies marketing based opportunities from a plethora of competitions and encourages student participation.
  • Marketing Weekly – OYM collaborated with Marketing Weekly to help the students navigate the overwhelming sea of marketing content. A breakdown of marketing concepts as well as the latest news are illustrated in these weekly articles keeps everybody up to date with the current industry trends and expectations. 
  • Social Media Campaigns: From concepts, trends, and everything marketing, campaigns are run on OYM social media handles to create an enthusiasm for marketing. These posts provide interesting reads with a visual aid to engage the reader. 

OYM also conducts events year-round to engage students with practical exposure to marketing concepts so that they learn the application of the same.  

  • Guerrilla MarFair: A Guerrilla marketing event enabling participants to create displays and advertise any brand. The event boasts average participation of 125+ students every year.
  • Markaholic: The flagship case study competition of OYM is an event conducted during Agnitraya. It received the highest registration of 1079+ in the previous year with participants coming from many top B-schools like IIM Lucknow, IIM K, IIFT, etc. 
  • Online Week of Social Media Marketing: Participants create a video Advertisement based on the theme selected and strive to go viral on social media. This tests and hones the participant’s social media strategy and technique which is a quickly growing and required marketing skill.
  • MarQuiz: An intra-college marketing quiz competition aimed at inculcating a competitive spirit and encouraging teamwork. It focuses on expanding the students’ knowledge in the domain.

The club also conducts entertaining events to further pique the interest of students in the field of marketing by incorporating elements like brand-knowledge, wit, and the ability to pitch your ideas such as:

  • Ambush Marketing: The participants use their creativity to implement the tactic of Ambush marketing to ambush their rival teams during the Kashipur Premier League. 
  • Pitch Please: A test of persuasion and zeal is presented as a challenge to the participant in this event. They need to pitch a product, an idea, or a sellable item, and winners are crowned based on the votes they receive from the audience.
  • DumbCharADs: A fun-filled brand guessing game that tests students on their brand awareness as well as acting acumen.

In this way, the club presents a spectrum of potential possibilities in the field of marketing for a student to pursue. It keeps a buzz around marketing domain and fuels the enthusiasm of the students at its best.

HRhythm - The HR Club | IIM Kashipur

Human Resources is one of the most sought-after domains for students who enrol every year to pursue an MBA. HRhythm-The HR club of IIM Kashipur comprises aspiring HR professionals, focused on providing HR-related content and making students abreast of the current industry practices. Hence, they leave no stones unturned to make the students aware of the opportunities and competition present in the domain in terms of B-school and corporate competitions.

HRhythm conducts a plethora of activities to cater to the interest in the Human Resources domain. The club has adapted to changes in the learning behaviour. It continues to implement them to efficiently impart knowledge and develop the interest of people in the field of Human Resources.

HRhythm conducts events encompassing various HR themes to accomplish the objective of amassing the HR enthusiasts nationwide by providing them with a platform for showcasing their HR skills. Apart from discovering and honouring the country’s talents, these events also provide a conducive environment to sharpen the ‘HR skills’. Some of the famous events by the club include – 

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  1. Scribble Dribble

Scribble Dribble is a Pan India article writing competition which encourages the bright minds of Indian B-Schools to draft an innovative article pertaining to the domain of Human Resources. It is conducted every year with an additional attribute that makes the event more stimulating than before. Both undergraduate and MBA students, across the country participate in huge numbers with great enthusiasm to demonstrate their writing skills and HR acumen. This year, a quiz-round was added to the existing competition structure, before the article-writing round to test the basic understanding of the HR concepts in a participant.

2. Pragyan

This is the annual flagship Case Study Competition hosted by the club. The participants are given a set of real-world scenarios that reflect the current problems faced in the corporate world, specifically in the HR domain. The motive is to let the participants take a peek into the state of affairs in most organizations and to make them savour the essence of solving simulated real-life corporate problems.

3. HResilience

In HResilience, the participants wear the hat of Labour Union Leaders and Employee Relation Manager, to showcase their bargaining expertise, problem-solving skills, and empathy for solving the persisting employee problems via reaching an amicable solution at the end. This event is also conducted to provide students with the industry conflicts that emerge in real case scenarios and apply HR concepts to come up with the optimum solution.

4. Negotiator 

This event encourages students to display or showcase their negotiation skills when confronted with a real-life business case. ‘Negotiator’ allows participants to be in the shoes of the CHRO and provides them with a platform to present their solution for the problems prevailing in the organization. It challenges their critical thinking, decision-making ability, analytical skills, and emotional intelligence to come up with the best possible solution in the given scenario.

The club utilizes its social media handles as a platform to impart knowledge about the HR world, with an additional essence to the content to make them cater to an average individual with even little to no interest in Human Resources. The club has consistently posted articles, and other relevant content on social media handles to promote students’ interests and keep them updated with the relevant information. Following is a walk-through of the HRhythm’s efforts:

  • Interactive content in the form of small videos and slides facilitates human resource learning lucidly. Audio-visual content aims at learning, brushing, implementing HR concepts.
  • A regular series of content uploads in the form of infotainment. Articles based on an amalgamation of HR concepts with mainstream Pop-Culture to generate interest in the student community.
  • Personality development and interview tips which help students to survive, sustain, and flourish in today’s competitive environment.
  • To complement classroom learning with corporate implementation, HRhythm is currently working towards organizing a series of interviews with industry experts. A summary of the same would be shared with the students in the form of a write-up or video. Inputs from industry experts will help students in gaining insights into the real-life HR world.

These efforts have not only increased the club’s social media presence but most importantly, it has been able to spark the desire inside many people towards the HR domain and it continues to do so.

Also, the team invites leaders from the corporate world to share their understanding of the domain and talk about the experiences that shaped their career as a young HR aspirant. They believe students should always perceive the reality and not illusions, which reflects in the engagement activities carried out by the club. Knowledge sharing sessions by Executive Members have been conducted to make students aware of recent happenings in the field of Human Resource Management, which will help them in acing selection processes for HR roles.

HRhythm also undertakes the responsibility of representing IIM Kashipur in the Human Resources domain and this involves maintaining relations with HR Clubs of other premier B-Schools across the country. This, in turn helps the students at IIM Kashipur to seamlessly participate in HR events of these institutes and thus creating synergy. Such relations would provide mutual benefits as students can participate, learn and win competitions. With this, the club has been able to establish the flag of IIM Kashipur in the sphere of human resources.

Econs – The Economics Club | IIM Kashipur

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Econs – the Economics Club of IIM Kashipur is one of the seven academic clubs of IIM Kashipur. Econs bears the responsibility of increasing awareness, generating inquisitiveness, and fostering passion among the students and faculty in the field of economics. 

The economics club was founded in the year 2019 as an interest-based club to impart knowledge, invoke discussions and conversations pertaining to economics, and highlight its importance and linkages to different business domains. Late American scholar Warren Bennis said that “Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing”. Keeping up with this notion, the club has found it extremely pertinent for aspiring managers to be aware of “Economics” affecting their daily lives and make them better prepared to tackle business situations efficiently. Since its inception, Econs has gradually attained the status of a core academic club and has carried out a plethora of activities in this direction.

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In the first year of its functioning, the club conducted ‘Arthashastra’, the flagship event of Econs, during Agnitraya 2019, which saw participation by around 450 teams from various B-schools across India. In this competition, different teams designed a feasible economic policy of their choice that resonated with India’s ultimate goal of achieving a five trillion-dollar economy. Along with that, Econs also conducted an ‘Infographics Making Competition’ covering topics like the future of banking, green Economy, and the effects of immigration on the Indian Economy. Econs also conducted the ‘Union Budget Prediction Competition’ wherein the participants had to guess highlights of the Union Budget and the participant with the closest prediction took away the prices. The event was welcomed with utmost enthusiasm.

The club makes the students aware of the domain by posting short articles bi-weekly through its social media handles on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. For the academic year 2019-20, the posts have covered topics like RBI monetary policy highlights, US elections impact on the Economy, and Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 to name a few. Along with the weekly posts, social media handles also feature monthly newsletters. The club shared this academic year’s first newsletter for the month of October 2020. The comprehensive issue featured the fragile state of the NBFC sector in India along with articles on comparing the Chinese Economy with the Indian Economy and giving a brief about the economic aspect of “Stubble Burning”. With an objective to inculcate the interest in reading in the field of economics, the newsletter also featured a review of a famous book ” Of Counsel-The Challenges of the Modi-Jaitley Economy” written by our former Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India, Mr Arvind Subramanian. Along with these, the newsletter had lighter sections like “Jargons” and “Current Affairs” too.

The club provides a platform for all the people to discuss, debate, and design on the current economic developments and government or regulatory policies and announcements. Throughout the year members of the club also conduct knowledge sharing sessions through case studies, quizzes, and games to instil and fuel a growing interest among students to understand and analyze their theoretical concepts towards practical applications.

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On the corporate front, the club extensively interacts with experts and industrial stalwarts in the field of business and economics to share insights regarding the latest happenings through a seminar or a lecture. Econs became the first academic club in IIM Kashipur to conduct a guest lecture in Conscientia 2020 leadership talk series. The eminent speaker of the guest lecture was Mr Dhiraj Nayyar, the Chief Economist of Vedanta Group and a former member of NITI Ayog, who delivered an insightful session on the relevance of economics for the managers.

Through its numerous strides in continuously highlighting different aspects of economics, Econs has achieved a distinct recognition in keeping up with its mission and being a forerunner for the same. The aim is to increase awareness about Economics among students. Our mission is to inculcate interest among the students of IIM Kashipur in economics and help them understand how economics is interlinked with various fields. We work to bring together all the economics and business enthusiasts inside and outside the campus together to discuss and debate the major economic events of the world to foster new ideas for the future.

Consilium - the Consulting and Strategy Club | IIM Kashipur

Opportunities! “Consultants must find newer opportunities. If you can’t find one, create one.” This is precisely what Consilium strives to do – creating opportunities!

Consilium, the academic club of IIM Kashipur deals with Strategy and Consulting aspects of  Management. Since its inception, Consilium is determined to assist the students with preparation, comprehension and expertise in this domain. The club continuously collects and updates relevant resources to enhance the knowledge of the community. With the changing business dynamics across the globe and shift in the recent global order, Consilium ensures that the students are equipped with the latest trends and have hands-on learning experience throughout the academic year.

Established with the vision of nurturing students to become the future leaders in the domain of consulting and business strategy, Consilium has been consistently working in this direction by conducting case study competitions, knowledge sharing seminars, guesstimate workshops and the most anticipated-industry interactions.

The Domain

“Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.” – Morris Chang

Consultants often find themselves interacting with different verticals and domains of the business. It requires solving problems not just through single domain optimization but via a collective approach encompassing all domains. The problems can be visualized with say an example where an organization wishes to analyze the pros and cons of venturing into a new market, which will require an understanding of marketing, finance, supply chain, operations, and a fair knowledge of relevance between all of these. That is where strategy comes into play. The methodology does not limit to one vertical but through a broader lens for looking at multiple domains.

Roadmap

The journey with Consilium starts with the very first month in the MBA curriculum at IIM Kashipur, where students are provided with the introduction to Strategy Frameworks, Consulting interview questions and reference materials. These resources assist students not just to gain a perspective in the domain, but also to comprehend highlights of the practices that are used in further stages.

Moving forward, Consilium provides a variety of hands-on opportunities through case competitions, business simulations, questionnaires and industry connections. The club is managed by Executive members who have demonstrated the knowledge and expertise at National level having a flavour of participating and winning reputed B-school and corporate case study competitions like Flipkart Wired, Thoucentric Bottoms Up, etc.

Consilium Insider

Consilium’s monthly newsletter shares the best practices, strategies and changing dynamics from different industries ranging from sports, FMCG, Petrochemical to latest Industry 4.0. Further, the newsletter comprises frameworks and their usage in real-life business problems from these industries. The club also ensures that the resources are not just limited to a monthly basis, and provide consistent updates through our social media channels.

The theme for the November Newsletter had been Covid-19 impact on business strategies covering the impact on the Sports and Oil industry along with the role of Digital trends in business expansion.

ForeSight Series

“It’s not about money or connections – it’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone…And if it fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time.” – Mark Cuban

In Foresight Series, the academic experience in consulting and strategy is tested through gamified quizzes, guesstimates and infographics. Foresight comprises three events throughout the year, offering a constant opportunity to compete with peers and test their mettle in solving real-world problems. Due to pandemic, Foresight 4.1 was conducted online with a mix of quiz to cover domain knowledge and guesstimates problems to prepare students for interviews.

Industry Connect

Consilium brings together experience from industry leaders in the consulting and strategy domain. Students get to explore from real-life experiences of consultants and explore insights from the challenges they face, the thought process behind critical decisions taken and the key takeaways from years of experience in the domain.

EndGame

EndGame is a national level simulation designed on a business scenario wherein the students walk the consultants’ shoes and apply their knowledge to compete with peers from other B-schools. It involves the application of academic knowledge from various facets of decision making, marketing and economics. It also tests the strategic forecasting and understanding of competitive dynamics in real-life situations. Further, the event demonstrates the presence of zero-sum game, to create similarity with as much real-world dynamics as possible.

Consulting Knights and Ranbhoomi

Consulting Knights and Ranbhoomi provides a diverse and enriching experience in solving cases at Pan-India level. Students utilize their knowledge of all disciplines to prepare strategies for business cases in teams. This event is organized in collaboration with various organizations like Havish M Consulting, to get an essence of existing business problems.

Consilium Conversations

In the academic year 2020-21, the club initiated a strategy-talk series “Consilium Conversations” wherein it invites budding entrepreneurs and industry stalwarts from various domains for a conversational interview. It focusses on unearthing the strategies that go behind creating a successful business or project. The motive behind the series is to inspire the students to develop strong critical-thinking skills required in strategy & consulting roles and learn about the latest developments in the industry. With each initiative, Consilium creates a robust environment for the students to learn and challenge themselves in the field of consulting and strategy.

How National Winners of Vigyaapan — The Advertising Challenge by IIT Bombay approached the case!

Ever since I started pursuing an MBA, my interest in marketing and advertising started increasing. So, whenever I saw any competition related to this field, I got excited to work on it. Neeraj also has a similar interest in marketing, so it was relatively easy to work with him even though he had just started his MBA journey. Your core values and beliefs should match when you want to form a team, and that happened when I met Neeraj.

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‘Vigyaapan- the advertising challenge’ by IIT Bombay precisely had all in store for us. On the surface, it looks like an advertising challenge, but it was not just making an advertisement for a known brand or product. After the quiz round, they shared with us some products that don’t exist at all in the real world. So first, we had to create a product strategy, give it a name, price, packaging, and everything related to product development. After a lot of brainstorming and considering all pros and cons, we chose to work on ‘Intoxicating Tea’. The case was simple. We had to plan a campaign for this product and execute it on social media in the form of an image and video. So, we researched tea and alcohol brands, studied their social media advertising and communication strategy. Then in the second round, we created a brand logo, product package, brand tagline, and structured an STP for the launch of the campaign. I have worked on Adobe illustrator before so creating a poster was a bit easy task but most of the time went into the creation of the advertising copy.

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We discussed a lot of ways in which we can tell our message, but everything was lengthy and complicated. We wanted something in minimal illustration with the right message. Eventually, we came to a consensus and went ahead with ‘teacup and a man going high with the fumes of the tea above the cup’. Later the idea was appreciated by the judges in the finale round.

The difficulty arose in the finale round where we had to submit the video ad as Neeraj and I were not in the same city. We could easily address this problem by compiling some stock images and showing something. But we believed originality is the key to winning and thought of producing our own film. So, we needed a script considering parameters such as ease of editing, minimal dialogues as we didn’t have proper cameras, and most importantly, a good story. Storytelling is the most crucial part of your communication strategy when you advertise. We needed a story where the consumer will have a surprising element by aligning it with the product benefits.

Beginning with this complex task, we first divided the work. Neeraj took the recording and editing work as he had some equipment and I worked on the script and direction. It was the first-ever experience of doing remote work in the direction of the film. We realized that challenges are inevitable and can be handled with proper communication and teamwork. There was a point where we thought we should give up as Neeraj had his exams while we were in the finale round. But his exams finished just two days before the presentation round. So, we had only two days to work on the script, then shoot it and post it on social media. But he worked all day and night and then created the final copy with all iterations that I had suggested. At the same time, I worked on the deck, which was to be presented in front of the judges.

Judges liked our idea, the out of the box thinking, and the way of storytelling. When the results came out, we were thrilled and thought that our sleepless nights have finally paid off. The experience in this competition was marvelous and unforgettable. On a leaving note, I would like to give a message — be focused, be original, push yourself a little harder, and you will find the key to winning hearts.

-by Rohit Jagtap

Team The Vikings [Rohit Jagtap (MBA Batch 2019–21), and Neeraj Tulsani (MBA Batch 2020–22)]

National Winners, Vigyaapan — The Advertising Challenge by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay

How National Winners of DigiBytes, IIM Bangalore approached the case!

B-school competitions are the first and foremost thing that the students are required to prepare for soon after they enter college. Let alone winning or losing, just by taking part in a competition and honestly putting efforts into research and data collection — which are the starting points of the competition can make one learn a lot. B-school competitions are an invaluable experience and an essential part of an MBA.

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When it comes to choosing a team for a competition, it is important to remember that all of the members need not be the best in everything — this may work reverse bringing in a lot of rework and discussions that forever go on a loop instead of adding value to the team. A short description of our team for DigiBytes a digital marketing competition conducted by IIM Bangalore will help you get the perspective rightly. One of the team members is a good initiator. With an idea in hand, he knew from where to initiate and was able to give a face, body, and life to the idea. The second member of the team is good at crunching numbers, bringing in facts to support the idea, and draw out revenue plans and cost structures, in short, a person good with data interpretation and understanding numbers. Our third member is a person who is creative, good at presenting his ideas simply, and understandably without diluting the essence of all the efforts that the team has put into building the case solution. Having diverse members in a team helps in bringing different perspectives and formulating a unique winning strategy. Adding on to the above merits, dividing work among the team becomes easy when the team is diverse, which saves a lot of valuable time given our hectic MBA schedules.

The context of DigiBytes case was to launch a new product in a given set of industry sectors and market them organically on social media handles. We can break down our approach in the following steps. The first step is to understand the category (fitness, food and beverages, chocolates, etc.) in which you are competing, whether the category is already established or it is new and developing.

The second step is to identify your immediate competitors and other competitors. For example, for launching new chocolate, its immediate competitors would be other chocolates such as Dairy Milk, Snickers, Milky bar, etc. and other competitors could be native Indian confectioneries, cookies, cakes, etc.

The third step is to understand the offerings of the competitors, what are the benefits that the competitors are communicating to their target group. This process will help in finding white spaces where your product can cash in and win.

The fourth step is to list down a set of your potential target customers, prepare a discussion guide, and conduct in-depth interviews. The fifth step is to identify your final target customer group, define his/her characteristics in-depth by answering questions like who is he, what is his behaviour and why does he behave so. This will help not only in understanding your target group better but also enables you to find tension or say a need state for your target group that you will go on to fulfill with your product.

The sixth step is to create an effective communication strategy for your product which is in line with your brand strategy and purpose, which serves the need of your target group that you identified in the previous step. The final brand communication must be impactful and should guide your target group from their current state to the desired state. For example, the current state of the target group is “ I believe starting my day early is good and healthy, but doing so is difficult, and I don’t find a motivation to do so”. The desired state is “Winners and achievers wake up early and start working towards their goals, and results don’t come easily, one has to work hard to achieve one’s goals”. The brand communication for your product should act as a bridge that moves your consumer from his/her current state to their desired state. For example, “I want my target consumer to believe that A cup of Sleepy Owl coffee is the best possible way to start my day and stay active throughout the day”.

The next step goes on to developing creatives and running campaigns that will take this brand communication to the desired target group. Better content categorization can be done using a funnel approach. The success of this step depends on the impactfulness and creativity of the campaigns.

To conclude, working towards winning a B-school competition along with the regular academic rigour not only adds value to the CV but also sparks innovation, shows the competitive part of you that you never knew existed. Humans are competitive and have been competing over territories, food, mates, etc., for hundreds of years now, and competition makes you better in what you do. The high that you get from winning will push you towards expanding your limits and thrive more for success. All the best. Keep working towards a better tomorrow. The right idea, at the right time and the right place will definitely win.

Team Black Clover

Aravind R, Gaurav Gopal, and Vignesh M (MBA Batch 2019–21)

National Winners, DigiBytes organised by IIM Bangalore

How National Winners of L’Oréal Sustainability Challenge 2020 approached the case!

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.

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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.

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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.

Our Learnings

“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.

Team Insight

Abhinav Yadav, Saransh Jain, Udit Arunav (MBA Batch 2019–21)

National Winners, L’Oréal Sustainability Challenge 2020