Tag: Case competition



ICE Week 2017

For Mike Bynum, MBA ’19, the final celebration of ICE Week on Wednesday afternoon was both exhilarating and bittersweet.

After a grueling, five-day marathon of case descriptions, business research, preparation, and case presentations, he was happy to have a plate of hot food and a drink in his hand, surrounded by his classmates and the three members of his team—his partners for the entire semester.

“But it’s also a little nostalgic,” he said. “I’m realizing that I’m working with the team one last time. We had gotten into a rhythm.”

Bynum and more than 140 other first-year MBA students participated in ICE Week—short for “Integrated Case Experience”—from Friday through Wednesday, a 17-year tradition at Olin. After final exams and before departing for winter break, the students put their heads together, solving real-world problems for real Olin business partners.

The "best of show" winning team from ICE Week.
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Disrupting partner businesses

This year, Monsanto and Amazon paired for one deceptively simple, yet agonizingly complex case: Disrupt Monsanto’s business using Amazon’s natural language processing and artificial intelligence in marketing and customer strategy. Presented on Friday, students worked through the weekend toward their Monday presentations.

Monday afternoon, MasterCard came to the plate with a second challenge: Propose products or services that would effectively increase the demand for digital money and open opportunities for largely cash-based customers to participate in the financial system. With only Tuesday to prepare, students gave their presentations Wednesday morning and early afternoon.

Patrick Moreton, Olin’s senior associate dean for graduate programs, said the five-day competition is a chance for students to step outside the somewhat artificial realm of the cases they’ve seen in the classroom.

“Classroom cases are more retrospective. They’re an effective teaching technique, but they’re not the real world,” Moreton said. “We bring in the outside companies so the stakes are higher. This is a chance for students to work on the kind of problems you might get at work.”

For the students, those “high stakes” include knowing they’re essentially auditioning for some top employers looking to fill summer internships. The partners get to see Olin students in action, gauging their analytical and presentation skills. Moreton urged the more than two dozen judges to consider a simple question as they evaluated the presentations: Could I give it to my boss without changing it? That might be a perfect presentation.

Corporate benefits

For the partners, it doesn’t hurt that they get 30 sets of eyes offering new perspectives and fresh insights on their business. Even if one presentation doesn’t jump out, the aggregated effect of multiple team presentations could uncover new ways of considering their problems.

For Monsanto, student ideas to “disrupt” its business included:

  • A software platform to aggregate farmers’ field data, Monsanto proprietary data, and third-party information to customize recommendations for farmers as they planned their annual seed and supply orders.
  • A user-generated social networking platform for farmers to share best practices using artificial intelligence to integrate ideas with outside data and elevate the most promising suggestions.
  • Another software platform using field and laboratory data to transition Monsanto away from corn and soy products—which largely support crops that provide feed for animals—to a business that moves toward more vegetable-based diets and lower protein diets.

Student suggestions for MasterCard included a plan to test an expansion of point-of-sale devices at retail locations in Mexico to expand the capacity of card-based cashless commerce and a proposal to reduce or eliminate digital payment fees to incentivize merchants to encourage them.

Winners

ICE Week organizers and the corporate partners raved about the high quality proposals they saw from students in both cases. They selected a runner-up and a winning team for both cases and a “best of show” team for the overall competition. Winners get a chance to make their presentations at Monsanto and MasterCard in front of senior leadership, as well as tour the companies and learn more about the business.

Monsanto case winners also got an Amazon Echo.

Monsanto-Amazon Case: Kavon Javaherian, Neha Lankadasu, Kyle Lee, Ana Mihaila (runners-up); Camden Civello, YoonJin Hwang, Takashi Otsuka, Meredith Owen (winners).

MasterCard Case: Camden Civello, YoonJin Hwang, Takashi Otsuka, Meredith Owen (runners-up); Greg Brown, Maitrayee Goswami, Junho Kim, David Paquette, Ariel Washington (winners).

Overall Winners: Greg Brown, Maitrayee Goswami, Junho Kim, David Paquette, Ariel Washington.




What happens when the sustainable agriculture company Monsanto and Washington University’s Olin Business School partner to create an exceptional developmental experience for graduate business students?

You get the Monsanto Olin Case Competition (MOCC), an opportunity for ten teams from across the country to come together for the third annual competition on Feb. 8, 2018. Through an affiliation with Olin’s Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation (BCSCI), this year’s case will challenge participating teams to present thoughtful and strategic solutions to a global supply chain and technology management problem. The student leadership from Olin’s Supply Chain & Operations Association (SCOPA) has already proven invaluable.

Participation in the case competition will include a tour of Monsanto’s Chesterfield campus, a panel, and a reception on Tuesday, February 7—a great precursor to the next day’s competition. Prize money will be $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place; and $2,500 for third place.

Teams have until December 11, 2017, to register and submit Round 1 materials. For more information, go to www.olin.wustl.edu/mocc. For questions, contact MOCC@wustl.edu.


Organized by:




Olin first-year MBA student Ony Mgbeahurike was a member of the winning team in the PepsiCo MBA Invitational Business Case Competition at Texas Christian University earlier this month. Ony’s team competed against students from 14 business schools, including Columbia, Wharton (University of Pennsylvania), and Owen (Vanderbilt University), among others.

The First Place team took home $7,000 for their efforts.

First place team (left to right): Patrick Smith from the University of Maryland, Sara Hartley from the University of Illinois, Jade Manternach from the University of Iowa, and Ony.

The MBA students were assigned to eight mixed teams, each team member from a different school. The teams received the case from PepsiCo Saturday morning and presented their solutions to PepsiCo executives that afternoon. Winning teams were announced at an awards dinner that evening.

#OlinKudos Ony and team!




It was the crux of my semester. Group assignments, midterms and consulting projects, all piling into one week of craziness. And the one thing that contributed more crazy than all the others was my involvement in a case competition.

Throughout your MBA experience, there are constant opportunities to get involved with one competition or another, especially among the ranks of top programs. Case competitions provide excellent strategic thinking and presentation experiences, exposure to a real problem and top leaders from the sponsor company, great school visibility, and, if you bring home the prize, a great resume line accompanied by a good chunk of change.

[RELATED POST: First-year MBA: Value outside the classroom]

This was my fourth case competition in my first year at Olin. At TCU and Mizzou we got the cases on site and had maybe six hours to scramble for a finished product. At Northwestern, and now Wake Forest, we received the case a week ahead and had all the time we could manage to prepare. With all the other things I was juggling at this point, I much preferred the former format. But my awesome team made the work fun.  The case tasked us with developing a strategy and implementation plan for attracting millennials to work at CVS corporate. In the end, my team powered through a few late-night meetings and submitted our presentation right before flying out to Wake Forest University for the competition and accompanying Marketing Analytics Summit. But then…

Do you remember that week this spring when Delta cancelled hundreds of flights over the course of a week because freak bad weather in their Atlanta hub knocked them for a loop? Yeah, that was our week. Yeah, we were flying Delta. To cut a story of 5 A.M. stress short, we ended up driving 12 hours from St. Louis to Winston-Salem. Although we missed all of the summit activities, it was actually a fun trip with plenty of time for team bonding and the chance to interview people at CVS stores across the eastern half of the country. At least we arrived in time for the competition.

Team Olin on the road to Wake Forest: Samantha Feng, MBA’17, Ryan Kirk, Karthik Chaturvedi, Cole Donelson and Raisaa Tashnova all MBA’18.

By the time we are ready to present our case, I always feel like the hard work is over. However, right before our time slot comes up and the team is doing a final run through, I’m always wishing we had a few more minutes to rehearse. Like it or not, the Wake Forest student coordinator knocks on the door to our assigned study room, and we are guided to the presentation room. It’s a gorgeous room where we are arranged to present facing a wall of windows looking out into the quad as well as at least a dozen judges from CVS and other prestigious marketing positions. Our PowerPoint is already loaded and showing on the screen. It’s show time.

After a quick 20-minute presentation and 10-minute Q&A, it was all over. I felt proud of our recommendations and confident in our delivery, but it only matters what the judges think and it’s hard to anticipate their perceptions. It was an accomplishment just to beat out dozens of other MBA teams who applied for the competition (with our masterpiece application video). Plus, with other teams from Yale, University of Chicago, Notre Dame, USC, Duke, etc., the competition was stiff. The last presentations wrapped up, and we were shuttled away to the awards dinner at a fancy country club nearby. The dinner was great, the chance to meet other students was fun, but at the end of the night everyone was waiting for one thing. The competition director held up the first big check and at the same time he flipped it around to show the name, he said, “Third place goes to Washington University in St. Louis.”

We were very hopeful, but also very surprised to hear our name called. In a rush of excitement we went up to accept the check, shake hands, and take a few photos. More than the $3,000 third place prize, it was the validation of our hard work and the value of our output that was most rewarding.

I’d be lying if I said we didn’t think we had put up a first place effort. But we were happy to congratulate the team from Hong Kong and the home team and reigning champion from Wake Forest on their respective second and first places.

After all, it’s all about the learning experience, right?

Wake Forest Marketing Analytics Summit

Eight graduate and six undergraduate teams from around the globe competed in the 27th annual Marketing Analytics Summit case competition for total prizes of $56,000. The event was held at the Wake Forest University School of Business April 7-8, 2017.

Participating schools at the graduate level included Hong Kong University of Science & Technology Business School, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School, and Yale University. Undergraduate teams hailed from Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management, University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, Utah State Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, and Wake Forest University School of Business.




Since 2012, the Olin Business Council has annually hosted the Target Case Competition. This year, on February 10, 2017, five teams advanced to the final round. Nine teams participated. Three Target representatives judged the competition and presented prizes of $1000 for first place, $700 for second place, and $300 for third place.

“It was a good competition. We had some great teams this year; the ideas and PowerPoints were among the highest quality,” said Olin Business Council President, Lillie Ross, BSBA’17. The case competition’s prompt was: “Developing the Modern Shopping Experience.”

Target case comp

As technology infiltrates brick-and-mortar stores, younger customers, like Olin students, provide invaluable insight for Target.

The second place team recommended transforming guest interaction with the store. “We wanted ideas that were based around the consumers interacting with Target in the comfort of their homes,” said group member Chloe Naguib, BSBA’18. The team recommended sending fabric swatches to consumers to test them in their house instead of using pictures to figure out which drapes go best in the guest bedroom. The team also proposed donating 2% of the profits to local homeless shelters (chosen by customers) to incentivize consumers to purchase more goods and emphasize Target’s community initiatives.

A team consisting of brothers from Phi Gamma Nu came up with the idea of Home ID: home identity and home interior design. The team encouraged Target to use its online and physical presence to further its home innovation program. They advocated Target incorporate a Bullseye Board to their website; this bulletin board would serve as a Target version of Pinterest, allowing consumers to pin pictures of layout designs of rooms or furniture featuring products available at Target. They also suggested Target Quizzes, where shoppers could take Buzzfeed-like quizzes that harness consumer preferences and recommends a corresponding color. “These quizzes are really addicting and a fun way for customers to choose their living room color,” said teammate Brady Delgadillo, A&S’20.

Every idea was innovative and unique; however, the first place prize could only be rewarded to one team. The winning team took a slightly different approach: they suggested Target personalize each store’s inventory according to location to appeal more to customers. The winners also leveraged personal anecdotes for their recommendations. For instance, teammate Lucy Meng, BSBA’18,  an international student, does not have access to a car, hindering her from visiting the store. Therefore, the group suggested Target offer a delivery service so international students could still access Target’s fresh produce and merchandise.

Overall, the competition was a success with the winning team pocketing $250 per member. As always, we appreciate Target’s sponsorship and relationship with Olin and look forward to next year’s competition!

Guest Blogger: Daun Lee, BSBA’20