Robbie Thomas is a first-year MBA student originally from Irving, TX.
Having not yet actually won a case competition, I may not be the world’s foremost authority on the matter. However, to that end, I do know how to come in 2nd Place and how to not place at all, so if you pay very close attention to my advice and outlook on case competitions at Cox, you will be very well positioned to almost win the next competition that you get a chance to enter.
Now that I have established myself as an authority on the matter, like a bird just hatched from its egg, let me help you learn to fly through the world of MBA case competitions.
What is a case competition? From the basic hatchling’s point of view, an MBA Case is a stapled, packet full of paper (10 to 30+ pages of text, charts, and exhibits, sometimes yellow) that gives you a business situation that some company is facing. Often, a large company will sponsor the competition and will be giving us students a real-time problem to hash through. The situation in the case leads to a set of decisions that the company’s management must face. You, the case competitor, get to make the hypothetical decision for the company, supporting your decision with facts and figures that are only given in the case.
Using your masterful skills as a grade-A ,Cox MBA student, you must craft your solution to the problem, fit it neatly into a Power Point presentation, and present your entire response in front of a group of judges (usually in less than 10 minutes – the current competition is giving us 5 minutes). After your 5-minute display of case acumen, the judges will drill you with crazy questions (like “is that actually possible to finance?” or “are you sure lettuce grows on bushes?”) and will choose the best case based on a number of unique criteria. The judges for an upcoming case are from the management team of Sabre (you’ve heard of Travelocity). If you win, there are prizes and money involved which is good for those of us without jobs and in need of food and drink. Generally, you have less than 5 days to put everything together and may be working with one or more other students who will be on your case competition team.
If you’re up for the thrill of competition and the rush of late night Power Pointing, it’s hard to beat a good Case Competition. Most of the clubs will organize a competition specific to the discipline that interests you. We recently had a competition that involved the Marketing and Strategy/Entrepreneurship Clubs and another with the Finance Club.
Part of the Cox core curriculum includes a “practice” case competition, so the MBA students are prepared when the real case comes. The competitions at SMU are great because we have so many company headquarters located nearby. The business community loves getting involved with Cox and hearing the feedback that we provide them through these competitions. We love getting involved with the business community because we need jobs.