The first of the many things that I learned after joining IIM Rohtak is the importance of corporate competitions. They give you a platform to apply the theoretical knowledge to real-life situations. They also provide you with an opportunity to interact with upcoming future leaders. According to me, these are the 2 major benefits amongst various others of participating in these events. Corporate competitions are mostly case-based events, in which the companies might ask the students to prepare a marketing strategy for their products, or might ask them to select the best possible approach for a solving a particular intriguing situation.
One needs to follow a structured approach to crack the case. I have formulated the following 6 steps- ABCDEF strategy based on my experience of such competitions:
6 Step Approach To Cracking Case Study Competitions
However clichéd it may sound but it is true that well begun is half done. So, it is crucial to start in a proper manner as this will set the foundation for your overall presentation. You should read the case study thoroughly by giving it a significant amount of time. You should be able to figure out what exactly is it that the case wants from you. You should be able to identify the crux of the case, around which the presentation of your team will revolve.
The 2nd step is to brainstorm with your team to generate ideas which your team will provide to the company. The team members should think of ideas individually first, and then they should discuss the ideas among themselves- this enables generation of more ideas. This step will give you the opportunity to apply your theoretical knowledge to the case solution. Try to remember all those relevant classroom things, and try to see if any of those concepts fit in with your suggestions. It is always good to present your solutions with the help of theories/frameworks. You should propose 2-3 concrete ideas, rather than more number of solutions; and also try to present the implementation plans of those solutions. Remember, you should go for depth rather than width.
In most of the case competitions, students are expected to present their solutions in the form of a Power Point presentation. By content planning, I mean that you should plan the content for each slide. Discuss with your team members the order in which you want to present the ideas, and try to maintain an approximately equal amount of content on each slide. You can also interchange among text and infographics to cover the vacant space. Often, there is a limit on the number of slides. It becomes imperative to present your recommendations in a planned, coherent, concise and efficient manner.
I think this is the step which most students tend to forget. They directly start putting the content in the slides, and often the result is a PPT in which you have to use different–sized fonts for the sake of filling up the vacant space. I faced a similar problem when I was working on the TATA STEEL-A-THON case. Due to lack of pre-planning, we had to spend a lot of time on altering the content of the presentation. Through this step, you will save extra efforts to modify the flow of the presentation, which might be required if planning is not done beforehand.
Dividing the work
It is advisable to make such a team for the competition, which has diverse skill-sets required for the event. For example, an event might require some amount of technical knowledge, so a person with prior experience in the same field will make a good team member. Similarly, an expert in PowerPoint presentation will help you with the design.
When I decided to make a team for TATA Motors MINDROVER Season 6 (which had a case on TATA HEXA), I approached one of my batch mates who had a prior work ex in the Automobile industry, and I should say that his experience certainly helped our team reach the national finals in the event.
After the Content Planning, the next step is to divide the work among your team members. You can divide the work, based on your solutions, or you can also divide based on a particular task, like one person can do the PPT design work, and one can perform the primary research, etc.
Secondary research is very important to collect the relevant data required to solve the case study. After the above four steps are completed, every team member should know what information s/he is required to find out. Sometimes, you are unable to find out the exact data which is required, in that case, you should try to mould your solution according to the information available.
There are many sources available on Internet, in which important information is readily available- like ibef.org, statista.com, etc. Also, there are reports published by consulting companies, like PWC, EY, McKinsey, etc. on various topics, which could be of your help. It is always good to present relevant information from trusted sources to back your ideas.
A PowerPoint presentation is a powerful way to express your ideas. It is because of this aesthetic ability of a PowerPoint presentation that the companies expect students to create a brilliant PPT which is simple yet visually appealing. Selecting an apt background, applying a good template, choosing an appropriate font, etc. - all these things are parts of furnishing a PPT. There are many resources available online-like Slide model, POPP, Creative Venus, etc. where you will get many design ideas to be used in your PPT.
In the case competitions I participated, the work of furnishing was allotted to a single person. All other were required to provide the data of their slides to this person, and she transforms all those slides into a wonderful PPT. This ensures uniformity and consistency throughout the PPT.
Lastly, Corporate Competitions are big CV points. They would give you a discussion-topic in your placement interviews. Many companies offer PPO/PPI opportunities to students performing excellently in their competitions. I would also advise you that doing well in these case events is a matter of persistence. Participating in as many events would make you better. This method provides just the initial 6 steps to perform well in such events. The next 20 are in your hands!