For those of you just getting to know the MBA experience along with classes, recruiting, networking, and “networking with classmates” (i.e.: having some fun…), case challenges are a (sometimes overlooked) piece of the puzzle.
Case challenges are sponsored by companies and are generally real-world questions that the companies are actually working on.
There are basically case challenges for everything: finance, marketing, global, and operations are just a small portion of them. Usually, they’re overnight competitions where interested parties self-select teams of 4 people to compete against either their classmates or against other schools (depending on the competition). They usually have cash prizes for the top three places, and they generally give out swag for other stuff (best speaker, best deck, etc.). Judges are representatives from different companies, so they’re great networking opportunities as well.
This year, rather than an overnight challenge, the marketing case challenge was a week long. Teams received the case on October 21, submitted their completed presentations by October 28, and presented on October 30. The competition was sponsored by Walmart and focused around how Walmart could use Pinterest to target millennials. For someone with a consulting background who worked in healthcare, public sector, and cable, this was a pretty big change.
Here’s the team vigorously (sort of) finishing the deck to get it submitted before the deadline:
Little did we know… they had an extra surprise in store for us during the competition… A TORNADO WARNING! Here’s a small group of us after we made it to safety:
Hook ‘Em, pre-presentation style:
A picture of the ultimate victors:
And finally, the second place team celebrating:
Personally, it was great to get to go through this. I learned a lot about marketing through the conference, and I honestly came in not knowing what I would gain from the challenge. After going through, it was awesome getting to work with people outside of my typical study team, get some marketing experience, and work on building my speaking-skills. Plus, the case was really interesting and relevant for anyone who has an interest in marketing.
There’s also a marketing conference that goes along with the case challenge each year which, this year, focused on “whole-brained marketing” (i.e.: How good marketers today own a combination of creativity and analytics skill-sets). The two keynote speeches were from Peter Horst, CMO, Hershey, and Kip Knight, President, H&R Block US Retail Operations, but the entire panel of speakers was awesome