The Class of 2019 just started their life at IIM Shillong, and the first thing that we tell them is to prepare for as many corporate competitions as possible. It doesn’t matter if you win or not, at least take part. That’s how you learn. But, the very next question that we always get after this suggestion is, “What to do in a corporate competition?” Here is an essential guide to what the necessary approach towards a competition should be:
- Case Analysis – It seems obvious, but many teams miss out on adequately analyzing the case itself while making a submission for the competition. A lot of data is given in the cases, use it to the fullest. Many cases give you the initial direction on what you should think and where would you find your initial research. Always stick to what the case or the competition asks, extra information is useful only after you have proposed the solutions initially asked.
- Data Collection - Probably the most critical part of a corporate competition is Data Collection. Data is what you use as a stable base for supporting all the arguments you make and ideas you propose in your solution. Always have sufficient data to back up your proposal. More than the data, the source is important. Always have a credible source like Bloomberg, Crisil, BSE, etc. as the data from a sub-standard source is generally not reliable. Also, don’t submit irrelevant data with your submissions.
- Surveys and Primary Research – It is good to do a bit of primary research of your own for your competition. Carry out some survey, personal interviews with relevant stakeholders are even better. For example, if the case needs you to submit a proposal for the marketing strategy of a new salon chain, then it’s a good idea to interview the regional head of Javed Habib. Add in the results of your own primary research. It shows your commitment to the competition.
- Data Analysis – After data collection, comes its analysis. Everyone has access to the same data. It is your analysis and interpretation of the data that makes your solution stand apart. Try to add statistical/quantitative results wherever possible. Excel provides a lot of powerful tools to do such analysis. Needless to say, there are also dedicated softwares like SPSS. Where a statistical/quantitative analysis is not possible, go for a qualitative one.
- Presentations – Generally the submission of corporate competition is either a presentation or a document. It is not necessary, to have a great design with flashy animations (I would rather skip going overboard with animations) but do keep your submission neat and clean. Your presentation should feel like a well-developed story, gradually leading to your suggestions.
- Seniors – We are here to help. If the competition requires a team to register (which is generally the case), try to have a senior in your first couple of competitions. Do not let them work but ask them to act as a mentor. My first competition was with a senior, and it really helped me understand the approach that I should use while taking part in a corporate competition.
- Inspiration – Go through the presentation of the winners from previous years. They are generally available online. Yes, the cases change every year, but their approach will help you understand what the competition looks for when evaluating a solution.
Corporate competitions are a significant portion of MBA life. Make the most of them. Take part in as many as possible. If you win even one, the perks are enormous. All the best .