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.

Acing the Cases – From the Horse’s Mouth

Case competitions are an integral part of B School life- not only because you get a kind of exposure but also the enormous amount of learning involved with it. Undoubtedly, academics form the basic ingredient of B School but also fine-tune yourself by participating in several International, National & Corporate Competitions. In one such international competition I participated (Zurich Enterprise Challenge), we did not manage to get into the Semi finale stage, but the problem statement was what attracted us the most. The statement demanded the vision for businesses & multinational enterprises post-Covid world.

Amidst the cramped schedule of a B School life, you would not get the time to do all the cases and do proper justice to them. So, picking and choosing the cases becomes a key aspect. “Pick a case and absolutely slaughter it” – should be the mantra. This indeed goes a long way, as a proper approach to a case requires a lot of research and groundwork & it effectively drains out oneself. Picking up simultaneous case competitions will not be a smart choice as the effort gets divided. There’s no fixed one-size-fits-all for the competitions. The main aim of competition varies on a case-to-case basis – sometimes it’s the PPO/PPI/ personal brand building, sometimes it’s the brand and sometimes it’s just the learning one can get by participating in it.

During my 2 years in IIM Kashipur, one thing I effectively learned is “perseverance holds the key to success.” In the first year, I did not participate much effectively in competitions except the only one in which our team won the title of National Winners in IIM Trichy. I felt that with the second year in the fold, it was wise to participate in the competitions that were restricted only to the first years. 

In the second year, it becomes clearer as the domain gets selective – for example, in the second year, I mostly participated in Marketing, Consulting, and Strategy competitions. Moreover, you learn a lot from your mistakes, in fact, the bitter pills you swallow shape up for the upcoming ones. In one such corporate competition organized by Infosys, a minor mistake from our end did cost our entry to the next round. So, these competitions, indeed serve as a replica, to what one might expect from the corporate world – “there are no free lunches incorporated.” One great aspect of participating in various case competitions is that you get to know in-depth about specific sectors you work in while preparing for the cases. The cases are handpicked live industry cases where the participants work towards developing a feasible and sustainable solution.

Lastly, one key aspect of nailing case competitions is having a core team that is well aware of their capabilities & weaknesses. There would be issues cropping up, arguments but the key is the light at the end of the road – a potentially feasible solution. A good team can indeed be a game-changer. Everybody must have set, defined roles within the team.

With this, I ended up with 2 National Winners, 2 Runners Up, 1 National Semi-finalist, and 3 National Finalists in my tally. Of course, you win some and lose some, but the key thing is “Never Stop, Never Settle.” The entire journey of participating in several competitions (National/ Corporate/ International) plays a pivotal role in shaping up one’s journey. For me, it was about going beyond the stereotypes, building and rebuilding myself. Always remember “What brought you here, won’t take you there.”

Each individual has a different story to tell, but selecting the right atmosphere is of utmost essential. I would like to thank IIM Kashipur and the stakeholders for putting up commendable effort and providing individuals with the right kind of atmosphere in which they can rebuild and transform themselves throughout their stay.

About the Author:
Rahul is an Electronics & Communication Engineer by qualification & completed his MBA from IIM Kashipur (19-21 batch). He has been recognized as the Top 100 Competitive Business Leaders’2021 by Dare2Compete and has been featured in Forbes India. He is an IT professional with 2 years of experience in Cognizant. In his past time, he likes solving puzzles & binging on OTT platforms. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Journey of winning ‘ICICI Bank Beat the Curve 2019’ – A step towards being 4th in D2C Competitive B schools 2021

From the beginning of the campus rounds, we focused on the aspect of bringing the youth’s (millennial) perspective to our case solution. For the competition, ICICI Bank Beat the Curve 2019, we chose to suggest an innovative product that will help attract people from 20 to 30 years of age towards the services of the Bank.  

The Challenge

We started by gathering a lot of primary data by getting responses from more than 1000 individuals of varied age groups and localities. The competition had three stages – a campus round, Stage 2 (semi-final), and a Final round. We spent close to 20 hours on the semi-final and the final rounds. The mentorship provided during the semi-final round was particularly very useful. There we understood what aspects of our solution we need to focus upon.

The Winning team – Team Ideates

There were 6 teams who made it to the Grand finale of the competition. They were from institutes like IIFT, FMS, JBIMS, IIM R, etc. During the presentations of the final round, we particularly felt that the team from JBIMS had put in a lot of research in building their solution. But we were confident about our solution as well as the presentation. Both Shubham and I were part of a winning team even in the first year of our MBA. The experience and learning during that competition certainly helped us here. We had confidence in each other. While preparing for the presentation, we helped each other out in finding faults critically and correcting each other. One of us was a late-night worker and the other was an early bird. Instead of quarreling over finding a common time to work, we took it as a plus point. We worked over this across time, building on each other’s work and just cross-checking before submitting the work when we were short on deadlines!

The moments that mattered

The panel of judges was from the leadership team at ICICI Bank. The competition had a unique and amazing judgment criterion. Along with the jury panel, the audience that comprised 50 senior-level executives of ICICI Bank, scored the different teams on 4 parameters. It was based on parameters like research depth, presentation quality, innovation of the solution, and the QnA round. One key learning in this competition was that the delivery of your presentation is as important as the hard work done while building the solution. Also, it is important that you look at your solution from the audience’s perspective. This helps you judge your own presentation before anyone else does! Well, there were two amazing moments for us. One was during the QnA, where we could justify a question put up by a senior executive sitting in the audience. Later, when we took our seats after the presentation, he came to us and praised our solution. That was really reassuring. The second was obviously during the declaration of results when our team, ‘Team Ideates from IIM Kashipur‘ was announced as the National Winners of ICICI Bank Beat The Curve 2019 and we were called on stage!

About the Author:
Chirag Dixit, MBA from Indian Institute of Management Kashipur and currently works with Bloomberg in their Financial Products team.
He has also been a part of the Placement Committee of the institute for both years and has worked in fostering relationship between the institute and industry on various levels. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.