Business case competitions are an invaluable opportunity for students at all levels to gain experience solving real world business problems within a team context. It’s one thing to learn business concepts in a classroom; it’s quite another to be put under time pressure to solve a pressing business problem. If you’re preparing for a business case competition, but don’t know where to begin, look no further. We’ve provided business case competition tips and examples in this article to aid you on your quest for 1st Place.
Finally, at the end of the article, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of international business case competitions, organized by country.
Case Competition Example
First off, what is a business case competition? Allow us to give you some tips. It’s where students form teams – usually of 4-6 people each – that compete to solve challenging business problems for a specific client. Then, each team presents their solution to a panel of judges, who evaluate the analysis, recommendations, and presentations.
But how does this begin? The teams are given a business case to research, analyze, and diagnose -sometimes up to 7 days before the competition, and sometimes on the day of.
Multiple rounds of competition are common, and the business cases represent a wide range of industries and subject matter. The winning team receives prize money, recognition for themselves and their school, and potentially even interview invites if the competition is hosted by a consulting firm.
Benefits of Competing in Case Competitions
There is a myriad of reasons for you to give a business case competition a shot. For one, working with a team will challenge your leadership ability, as well as your ability to build consensus with peers over whom you have no direct hierarchical power. When you have people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives coming together to work towards a goal, you will undoubtedly have conflict, and conflict demands growth.
That points to another excellent benefit of competing: simulated experience that is more realistic than classroom discussions. You’re solving real issues that your “clients” have faced or are facing. You’re digging deep into thorny business issues, analyzing data, and finding data-driven solutions. On top of this, the practice of pitching your recommendations (i.e. learning how to sell and persuade) is invaluable. Finally, many business case competitions offer cash prizes to the winning team, which is always a nice bonus!
Case Competition PowerPoint Structure
Nothing is more frustrating than conducting hours of research and data analysis only to throw away all your hard work with a less than stellar PowerPoint presentation. You can have the most brilliant idea, but if you can’t convince the client to act, it’s useless. Your case competition PowerPoint structure should be clear, compelling and easy to follow. The best way to do this is by utilizing the Pyramid Principle.
The first slide of your PowerPoint should be a short and sweet Executive Summary – lead with your takeaway and lay out the 2-4 arguments that will support that assertion. Then, each subsequent slide should encompass one of your supporting arguments. Be careful to ensure that each slide has only one key takeaway (this is an important part of being MECE). Use charts and graphs as needed to augment your story. Finally, end by restating your final recommendations and outlining next steps for the client.
One of the biggest mistakes we see when running case competitions at our partner universities is that teams rarely dedicate ample time to case competition PowerPoint structure. So a huge tip for winning a business case competition is dedicate time for your PowerPoint deck! The ones that do are the teams that often end up the winners.
How to Win Business Case Competitions
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to coming out on top in a business case competition. However, you set yourself up for a greater chance of success by adhering to the following three rules.
Be MECE In Your Workstreams.
We can’t stress the importance of this enough. With limited time, this is how you analyze a large quantity of data in an efficient manner. Each team member’s workstream should me mutually exclusive – i.e. it shouldn’t overlap with what any other team member is analyzing. At the same time, the team lead (make sure you designate one) should ensure that each workstream will enable the team to be comprehensive in its approach. In short, look at everything important, but only once.
Don’t begin the case competition by wanting to look at all the data before arriving at a set of recommendations. Use your business acumen to begin with a hypothesis – what do you think is the key driver of the business problem? Where do you think the potential solution lies? Again, this allows you to be efficient in your analysis – if your initial hypothesis is right, you just saved yourself a lot of time of looking at data that would not be useful.
Make A Strong Final Recommendation.
Be laser-focused in your presentation, leaving no doubt about what you are recommending and why. Rank the next steps you recommend, so the client knows exactly in which order they should attack things.
International Business Case Competitions
Below, we’ve compiled a fairly comprehensive list of international business case competitions, organized by country.
- John Molson MBA International Case Competition
- Schulich International Case Competition
- Scotiabank International Case Competition
- ASCM Case Competition
- Collegiate Ethics Case Competition
- Deloitte Consulting National Undergraduate Case Competition
- Global Case Competition at Harvard
- Harvard Real Estate Venture Competition
- Kellogg Real Estate Conference and Venture Competition
- KeyBank Case Competition
- Marshall International Case Competition
- Net Impact Case Competition
- NU-CUIBE International Business Case Competition
- San Diego State University
- The Katz Invitational
- The University of California Press’ Case Studies in the Environment Prize Competition
- UConn International Business Case Challenge
- Yale Healthcare Case Competition
We hope the business case competition tips and examples in this article were helpful and helped answer the all-important question: “What is a business case competition and how do I win?”
We highly encourage joining (or creating!) a team and taking part in a case competition. Take advantage of the opportunity to grow in your analysis, presentation, and leadership skills – they will only come in handy as you move on to case interviews. Best of luck!