The annual Melbourne Business School (MBS) Case Competition is designed for graduate students to build their skills in management consulting and network with industry experts. In 2021, first place for the competition went to team Masterminds. The team shared their experience of the competition, their insights and hopes for the future.
The 2021 MBS Case Competition was delivered online with the support of the Melbourne Business School Student Association (MBSSA) and 180 Degrees Consulting. The event was run in partnership with SPP and CFA Society Melbourne, with Ericsson as the case partner. Students were challenged to develop initiatives aimed at accelerating the growth and return on investment of 5G technology in Australia, with a particular focus on the consumer.
This year’s competition winners were Masterminds – Damon Fahey, Fulin Cao, Mansi Jain and Shiming Zhang. Comprising both new and continuing students, each member registered to participate individually before being allocated to the team. “Even if you don’t know anyone else who wants to compete, signing up is a great way to meet people within MBS, and the case organisers do a great job in allocating the teams according to your strengths,” said Damon.
Each team member had their own reasons for joining the competition. In addition to placing Mansi outside her comfort zone through working with diverse stakeholders, Fulin saw the opportunity to develop skills in design thinking. Problem-solving, consulting and communication skills are areas that students have the opportunity to hone through the competition. “I joined the competition to gain consulting skills which would be useful in a range of industries. I also thought it would be a valuable opportunity to put into practice topics I learned at university under a short time frame, which would simulate the working environment,” said Damon.
Each team member had their own reasons for joining the competition. In addition to placing Mansi outside her comfort zone through working with diverse stakeholders, Fulin saw the opportunity to develop skills in design thinking. Problem solving, consulting and communication skills are areas that students have the opportunity to hone through the competition. “I joined the competition to gain consulting skills which would be useful in a range of industries. I also thought it would be a valuable opportunity to put into practice topics I learnt at university under a short time frame, which would simulate the working environment,” said Damon.
Andres Torres (Strategic Product Manager at Ericsson) witnessed firsthand how students put their skills to the test, as a final round judge. “It was fantastic to see how in a very short period, student teams managed to get acquainted with a new technological development such as 5G, its possibilities and the challenges that Australian mobile operators face as they deploy new networks. Submissions were of a very high quality with insightful findings that can translate into real business possibilities, something that we were keen to find when the case was first proposed.”
As part of the competition, participants are offered skills workshops run by event partners and past competition winners. “At the very beginning of the competition, I knew barely anything about how to break down a problem or how to develop and deliver a consultancy presentation,” said Fulin. Masterminds incorporated these learnings into the preparation of their case and presentation, with the judges’ feedback during the preliminary round equipping them for a successful final round.
“SPP, the principal partner provided a valuable initial ‘crack the case’ session, which helped us structure our problem and provided us with important skills, valuable in consulting and beyond. MBSSA did a great job in connecting us in the virtual world this year, and their resources and community events were valuable in meeting fellow competitors.”
David Mackay, Partner at SPP and competition judge hopes that students continue to develop their problem-solving skills to create a positive impact on the world. “All teams demonstrated their ability to take the concepts shared in the problem-solving workshop and apply them to a real-world complex business challenge. We look forward to the future possibility of some of these students joining our Summer Internship Program or Graduate Program.”
As 2021 winners, Masterminds, along with 3 other teams, were awarded with a monetary prize. “Since I plan to take my CPA exam, I plan to use the prize money on the exam,” said Shiming. When asked about where she saw herself in the next two years, Shiming credited the competition to her discovery of consulting as both challenging and interesting: “I have submitted applications to consulting companies and am excited to either become a future banker or consultant.” Fulin, who also hopes to become a consultant, made a similar discovery following her competition experience. “I was excited to find I had so much passion and interests in problem-solving and working in a client-facing role.”
Unsurprisingly, all members of Team Masterminds were eager to recommend participation in future competitions. “Don’t hesitate, just go for it!” said Fulin. “It isn’t just an extracurricular activity but will help build skills and attributes that you’ll apply in your career. It's not the result that matters, it's the process you engage in that counts.”
Mansi felt the competition fast-tracked students’ learning in a short period. Competing for the second year in a row, Mansi advised, “start early, take it seriously, and work hard because you’ll never know if you have the potential to win.”
“It provides a valuable experience in presenting to judges from businesses that you would potentially work with post-university, and provides an opportunity to supplement your university studies,” added Damon.
Andres Torres noted that this year’s competition was a success not only for students, but also for the case partner. “For Ericsson it was really exciting to be part of this activity and has been a privilege to work with Melbourne Business School and the students in this event.”
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Top image supplied by Ericsson