Gaurav reports on the NUS MBA Team’s insights from participating in the John Molson Business Case Competition 2010 in Canada.
It all started with an email from the MBA Office inviting people to participate in the John Molson Business Case Competition. The students needed to submit an essay, their resumes and also solve a case which was judged by our distinguished professors.
About a month after the whole process started, the team was announced; Jaimin Shah, Hugo Rufino, Suveer Rajpal and of course, me. Then started the rush for flight tickets, visas etc. Hugo was chosen our team leader and he did a good job ensuring everything went well.
A little more details on the competition itself “The John Molson MBA International Case Competition“ is a not-for-profit event organized by MBA students from the John Molson School of Business at the Concordia University. The competition is open to top business schools worldwide.
The competition format is a round-robin tournament consisting of five business cases. With three hours to prepare, teams of four students analyze and evaluate unpublished business cases using the skills, knowledge and experience they have acquired from their respective MBA curricula. Students rely on their own abilities as they are without the aid of tools such as PowerPoint and the internet. The final product is a hand written presentation (!!!) that demonstrates the students’ ability to dig into the problem and develop a feasible solution. Once preparation is complete, they present their strategic solutions and a detailed plan of action to a panel of senior business executives.
Once we got to Canada, we were exposed to the -25 degree cold, which was rough coming from +30 degree Singapore! This was the first obstacle. Second, the 13 hour time difference; it took us all a day to adjust to the jetlag.
The 36 schools participating in the tournament were divided into 6 groups of 6 each. NUS Business School was group 5 along with the University of Pittsburgh, University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia, Dusseldorf School of Business and Laurier School of Business.
Round 1 – University of Pittsburgh
This was the first case that we competed in and it was against the team from the University of Pittsburgh. The case was regarding a business expansion plan and was very interesting but it being our first time, there were some nerves during the presentation and QnA. Regardless, NUS Business School won this round with a score of 6-5.
Round 2 – University of Ottawa
The case was about a family owned business in the Eastern Bloc and the problems this business now faced with the 3 owners expectations changing as the business grew. NUS Business School won this case too with a score of 7-4.
Round 3 – Laurier School of Business
This was a short case ( for 90 mins instead of the usual 180) and was leaning towards the finance side as it required us to come up with an investment strategy for a client of the bank we were supposed to be working in. Jaimin was the main contributor to this one. Unfortunately we lost this one 3-8.
Round 4 – Dusseldorf School of Business
This was the longest case of the tournament, which went on for 6 hours end to end. It was a ‘Live’ case meaning it was regarding a current problem faced by a company and the company executives were present to explain the problem to us. This year the company was the Montreal Ice Hockey team, the ‘Montreal Canadiens’ and the team owner Mr. Jeff Molson along with his VP, Marketing was present to explain the case to us. It was a marketing case and was a very good experience for all of us. Being new to Ice Hockey culture we tried our best to understand the intricacies of the case and gave our recommendations, but it didn’t go down well with the judges and our team lost this one 3-8 too.
Round 5 – University of British Columbia
The final round and we were all charged up. The case was a finance case again with a lot of exhibits and was about a small winery which faced a problem of losing market share and a takeover bid. We tried our best to understand the issue and managed to grab a win with a score of 6-5.
Thus the round robin ended with NUS Business School winning 3 of 5 cases but not making it to the semi final round. We were disappointed but at the same time were very happy we had the chance to compete in such a tournament where we all got to expand our learning and interact and network with so many people from different schools.
This was the first year the NUS Business School participated in this particular event and we got to learn a lot from the experience. We won 3 cases out of the 5 we competed in and we made a lot of new friends in the MBA community.
We can now contribute a lot to the team that goes next year as we now know the format of tournament well. Some important things we observed are:
1) The schools that participate in this tournament have a dedicated coach with whom they usually practise for 2-3 months prior to the competition. The coach usually carries over from year to year, in fact we saw coaches who had been coming in year after year for the last 10 years or even 15 years. This helps the team to hit the ground running when they get here.
2) Apart from analysis, skills in drawing and writing on transparencies are important – without the use of laptops or PowerPoint, the team has only basic transparencies to convey their ideas to the judges.
3) Tackling the -25 degree temperature and the harsh Canadian winter is no easy feat – One of our team members kept getting a nose-bleed every night due to the extreme cold – I’m sure the team next year will be better prepared
All in all, it was a great experience, one which will be cherished forever. We are proud to have represented the NUS Business School at this tournament.
Student Council President
Class of 2011