Case Competition Tips
Written by Adrian Samuel
180DC in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group is running our annual flagship case competition. A battle of wits like no other, a case competition will test your mental faculties and challenge you with real cases provided by NFPs. The competition last year was fierce, but this year with Monash University and Royal Melbourne both stepping in and the winners’ spoils being first-round interviews at BCG, the stakes have never been higher! We understand that you might be intimidated in situations like these and to calm those nerves, we thought we’d help with a few tips to compete on the highest level possible. If you are wanting to become a future consultant then read this article for invaluable tips and tricks.
Research to support big ideas
Companies value ideas that have a basis in reality. As individuals presenting solutions to complex cases, the amount of research you do reflects your final product. Where and if possible, conduct primary research to get a sense of the people that essentially live the problem. For example, if your case is to do with inefficient administration of hospital treatments, talk to the doctors, nurses and the social workers that actually go through the process. Primary research in combination with strong secondary research helps provide a clear picture to your team and the client.
Develop precise solutions
One of the common mistakes with students new to the case competition is when they present a broad set of solutions that are not explored fully. Companies want to see students explain the fine print. With students spending weeks on the case, the clients expect actionable points under a solution they can implement. For example, if one of your solutions to a problem is to create a platform, the pain points of releasing a platform and the pitfalls that users would encounter should be listed. Not only does this create an outline for the stakeholder, but it also leaves them impressed by the depth of the idea.
Choose your group wisely
With a large undertaking like the case competition, identifying individual strengths of a team to address key sub deliverables is crucial. Harnessing the different abilities in your group provides you with unique perspectives to tackle the challenge while also ensuring the smooth division of labour. For example, with creative outlays like presentations, a person experienced in design could take over to provide an edge over the competition. It is also important to maintain good team dynamics throughout the process. Ideally, you want a team that draws inspiration from values similar to our 180DC UniMelb cohort who dares greatly, is committed to growth, and who upholds the importance of integrity. Additionally, with limited time and large amounts of data, remember to implement a MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive) framework while distributing workloads. This ensures a comprehensive direction for your team and that will lead to an effective implementation plan for your client.
Present a story
Your presentations should be a storytelling exercise. Go to the drawing board with your team, spell out the story you want to present, back it up with your findings from the analysis, and then make a slide-deck with action titles. Use lots of action titles that summarise the entire slide. Make sure that when the slide-deck is put together, the action-titles tell a coherent story. Perhaps you could consider drawing inspiration from Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle or even our 180DC UniMelb About Us page for a good story flow that conveys key messages. The value of an aesthetically compelling presentation also cannot be overstated. This will keep your audience alert and engaged. You can use lots of charts, graphs, tables, and diagrams to visually display your information in a more comprehensive way with proper headers and axes tables. Most importantly, make sure your structure flows in a logical and intuitive manner.
With all this in mind, remember that case competitions are not about winning (well maybe a little bit, let’s be honest). Keep in mind that other than challenging and stimulating your creativity, this is your time to learn and grow. If you are striving to become a consultant then this case competition will be great practice for you. Competitions provide an enriching taste of the business world while you make connections over a shared and memorable experience. We hope to see you soon!