The "Incredible Asia" team, made up of participants from ESSEC Business School's Global MBA program, was among the 10 finalists in the Harvard Global Case Study Competition. This recognized competition of cases takes place every year. Jennifer Thomas, Global MBA participant and member of the “Incredible Asia” team, Joe Paul, ESSEC Alumnus and team coach, and Patti Brown, Director of the ESSEC Global MBA, look back on this experience.
Jennifer Thomas: “a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity”
What was the competition about?
Jennifer Thomas: Harvard Global Case Study Competition is held every year where all the participants who register are sent a case are have 3 weeks to solve it. Then, the top 10 teams are invited to present their solution in front of a panel which includes people from academia as well as professionals from the industry. The case is usually focused on the M&A between two companies and this years topic was ‘Amazon & Netflix - Winning the Streaming Wars’. The gist of the case was that Amazon is looking at expanding it content library in order to win the streaming wars and we were asked to propose the best idea to help Amazon achieve this goal. The solutions could range from acquiring Netflix to Amazon even building its own production capabilities. The important part was to be able to justify our recommendations from both a financial as well as non-financial perspective. Team Incredible Asia is proud that from the 140 teams that presented their solutions, we were among the Top 10 finalists which included teams from London Business School, HEC, MIT and other prominent colleges.
What did you have to produce?
Generally, the rules of the competition require that the teams submit a deck with a detailed layout of their recommendations, research, analysis etc. The finalists are then invited to Harvard to present their case and defend their recommendations in a Q&A round. However, this year due to the COVID-19 situation, the final presentation this year was in the form of a video presentation of around 12 mins and for the final Q&A round, we used the now widely popular ‘Zoom’ to interact with the the panel.
What did you get out of it?
This has definitely been a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. Working within the 3 weeks timeline along with the regular lectures and assignments, helped us not only with time management but also with understanding how to analyse and process all the information we found while doing our research on the companies and the streaming industry. The whole process of presenting so much information in a limited number of slides, allowed us to think and present the most logical and efficient chain of information to best present our analysis and recommendations. Our preparations for the Q&A session allowed us to challenge each other by continuously questioning not only the data but also the analysis and being able to defend the questions boost our confidence. Finally, the million run throughs for our video presentation has definitely helped each of us up our presentation skills by a notch !
Will it help you in your career?
Yes. While we may or may not be able to work in an actual M&A for any organisation, this case study competition has helped us hone some underlying skills. Strategic thinking, collecting information, analysing the information and finally presenting the recommendations has helped us to move a step ahead in skills that will be crucial going forward especially in a corporate environment.
Joe Paul: “Passin on the torch as an alumnus”
What was your role?
Joe Paul: Well, my role was more of passing on information and hoping to inspire the successive batches to get into MBA case competitions. I was part of the team of the previous (2019) batch who had made it to the top 3 in the St Gallen case competition which was coincidentally the first time ESSEC Global MBA even took part in one. Hence being the only in Paris at the time was asked to speak to the new batch on case competitions and pass on the experience in the hope of inspiring them to go out and do even better than what we did.
What did you want to provide to the participants?
It was mainly to get the participants to take part in more case competitions and explore more opportunities. Our team had discussed this while competing back in 2019; that it would be great for the ESSEC Global MBA candidates to get out and take part in more competitions regardless of wins as it is a great journey in itself. We had an amazing time the first time around and believe case competitions are an amazing opportunity to compete and learn from other Business schools on a professional platform. It definitely enriches the MBA experience, more so as the course being only for a year one ought to make the most of it.
What did you get out of it?
A sense of passing on the torch as an alumnus. The 2019 batch went out for the first time and was able to leave a mark however small. We only wanted the successive batches to continue on this trend and take part in more competitions and surpass in both achievements and the number of cases they could compete at. Only pray that this succession continues and hope the current batch would be able to inspire the 2021 batch to go out and outperform this performance! And let all such victories reflect off the leap-board that makes it all possible- ESSEC Global MBA.
Patti Brown: “They push our MBA participants to their limits”
Why is it important for Global MBA participants to participate in these events?
Patti Brown: Through Case Competitions, our MBA students are able to showcase their talents and hone their team working skills. By playing to each team member's strengths they apply what they have learned in their MBA program - Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Performance management and much more. Case competitions also provide a unique venue to interact with industry leaders and other MBA programs. They push our MBA participants to their limits.
How do you prepare them? Do you have partners to train them?
Training case competition teams takes a village. We start with explaining what these competitions are and what they consist of. For this, we bring in Alumni from past case competitions for the general information session. The Alumni then is able to set up one to one meetings or team meetings to analyse the competitions that are currently open. Confirmed teams then come see the program Director (me) to talk about the competition they would like to compete in and why. We analyse their project and assist in enrollment procedures and paying participation fees. Teams then reach out to our on site Professors who have previously trained teams for coaching, deck review and much more. Several late night meals are shared between the teams and program during the prep period, we need to keep them fed! Everyone at ESSEC is behind these teams, we are their number one fan!