Case competitions are one of the most exciting activities of the MBA. Working with a team to finally put into practice all the abstract theory you learn in class, you have the chance to develop solutions to problems that have real impact for a company, or sometimes, if you’re lucky, for society in general. My own experiences doing case competitions last year were great, including a win in the semi-finals of the HULT case competition that brought my team all the way to Dubai, so when a 1st-year, Dana Kelley, asked if I’d help coach her team for this year’s Johnson&Johnson case competition, I jumped at the chance.
Not like I actually had to do very much! I could tell from the first meeting with Dana and her team- Michael Kuan, Claudio Silvestrin, and Christian Ludwig- that my services would hardly be needed. They were a powerhouse group from the start- a former McKinsey consultant, a healthcare expert, strong finance backgrounds, etc. But more than by their professional experience, they were best aided by their team dynamics. Their personalities and skill sets were very complementary, but it was the respectful diplomacy and camaraderie with which they related to each other that was really impressive.
Case competitions are grueling. There’s a lot of stress and self-doubt, and long nights piled on top of all the other regular classwork 1st-years have to deal with. My job was to act as a guide, essentially by asking the right questions and letting them reach their own conclusions about how best to make a particular decision. Don’t get me wrong- more than once I told them that a slide was hideous and had to be redone, or that they had a message that just wasn’t clear, but for the most part I had the pleasure of watching four excellent minds sort through reams of data, work out a solution and implementation plan, and then present it with elegance and conviction.
It was also fantastic for me to realize how much I myself had learned in one short year of the MBA. There are certain frameworks and ways of approaching tasks that I just take for granted now, which help me immeasurably in organizing my logic, which I picked up from my classes and my peers. It made me realize how much I’d actually absorbed from the MBA, and how much more confident I am now about dealing with even the thorniest business problems.
And the best part- their team won! I refuse to take any credit- they would have done just fine without me- but I feel lucky to have been welcomed in and to have passed the torch to the next generation, and I’m very proud of all they’ve accomplished. Sooner than they realize, it will be their turn to mentor next year’s class, and to help bring home even more ESADE success stories.
Full Time MBA Class of 2013