Common advice for new MBA students is to embellish your academic experience with extracurricular activities and events. Case competitions are an excellent way to do this: participants gain academic, problem solving, and presentation experience, while getting the chance to network, travel, and even win prizes!
How so? We interviewed three of Dalhousie’s graduating CRMBA students — Priyanka Kochhar, David Hatcher, and Ryan Bunker — for their perspectives on what makes case competitions such unique experiences.
A case competition is an interesting way to apply class learnings to business scenarios in a high pressure environment. Competitions require an analysis of the situation as well as a proposed solution to the problem, which then must be presented to a panel of judges.
“The most valuable component to me was getting the practical experience and the understanding of what it would be like to work in the subject area of the competition,” says David Hatcher. “I see case competitions as a way to gain additional experience outside of the classroom and have the ability to learn practical skills.”
“A colleague from my residency, who is also a CRMBA grad, suggested I try to fit in as many extracurricular activities as possible to gain more practical experience in a field I could see myself working in. That was great advice as I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process,” says Ryan Bunker. “Another underrated benefit, in my opinion, is having to stay disciplined in your coursework to ensure that you’re not falling behind; I think time-management and learning to work the most efficiently is a skill that will be helpful in my career.”
Priyanka Kochhar agrees, adding in: “Competitions have also significantly improved my presentation skills. I feel much more comfortable speaking in front of large groups than I did before.”
Plenty of opportunities exist at case competitions to mingle with students of other schools as well as business professionals. In fact, many case competitions include networking mixers among the scheduled events.
Priyanka found that attending the case competitions helped to expand her network. “I have met entrepreneurs across Atlantic Canada, government and industry professionals in Nova Scotia, and am currently coordinating with contest organizers in Australia. It has been great to meet so many people, hear their stories, and learn about opportunities that exist beyond grad school.”
“I have met many people with different backgrounds,” says Ryan, “all of whom I wouldn’t feel awkward asking to meet up later in my career over a coffee.”
“Working on case teams really brings out how people react under pressure,” says Priyanka, “Case competitions can be quite nerve wracking. With travel and time crunches, networking and presenting, there are a lot of components that push people outside of their comfort zones. It is interesting to watch the different personalities at play and how people come together to present such high-quality work in short periods of time.”
David further explains, “These competitions forced us to work as a team to solve problems and put together quality work under time constraints, something I think will be very valuable for our careers. Each person would bring a diverse set of skills and would have strengths in different areas that allowed us to be efficient and have trust in each other.”
“Working with others can be challenging at times,” agrees Ryan, “but how each of our different skill sets came together, creating something unique was amazing — the whole really is more than a sum of its parts.”
Case competitions may be challenging, but these also provide many fun opportunities. Teams can travel across Canada and internationally, and usually have the chance to win cash prizes!
When asked if they were interested in giving any shout-outs, all three participants were enthusiastic.
“Shout-out to all my teammates this year,” says Priyanka. “Each of them taught me something new along the way.”
“Thanks to all of my case teammates and coaches for their dedication — we had a lot of good times that I will cherish,” says Ryan.
“All my teammates for being awesome to work with, as well as our coaches for their guidance and support,” agrees David, adding a special thanks: “And Rick Nason for his help in Advanced Corporate Finance class by getting us to think differently about problems and prepping us to think on our feet and be ready for tough questions.”
Priyanka Kochhar participated in the IBM Watson Global Analytics Competition, won second in the Nova Scotia Open Data Contest (with teammate Cory MacRae), and won first in the BMO Apex Business Plan Competition (with teammate Ryan Bunker).
Ryan Bunker participated in the Venture Capital Investment Competition, was a runner-up in the National Investment Banking Competition (with teammates David Hatcher, Jack Dellaire, and Hadyn McInroy), and won first in the BMO Apex Business Plan Competition (with teammate Priyanka Kochhar).
David Hatcher participated in the MBA Games Strategy Case, Pacific Venture Capital Competition, the Venture Capital Investment Competition, was a runner-up in the National Investment Banking Competition (with teammates Ryan Bunker, Jack Dallaire, and Hadyn McInroy), and won first in the CFA Research Challenge (with teammates Karah Lee, Kelly Hawa, Christian Thomas, and Dharshan Imbiraj).