Beedie MBAs reach finals of Whitman Case Competition

Mar 12, 2013
Whitman team photo

The Beedie School of Business Whitman Case Competition team. From left to right: Karina Burrows, Denis Mikhailov, Danielle Friesen and Dominik Desbois

A team of Beedie School of Business MBA students will travel to Syracuse University, New York, on March 22 to compete in the finals of the prestigious Whitman Case Competition. The team earned their spot after their preliminary executive summary placed them in the top six from almost 30 teams.

The annual competition, run by the Whitman School of Management, draws teams from invited schools across North America. Competing teams have only a short time to submit an executive summary, answering three questions about a real-world business case.

The Beedie team members, Karina Burrows, Dominik Desbois, Danielle Friesen, and Denis Mikhailov, first had to show themselves as viable candidates by submitting their own executive summaries, detailing suitability for the competition and external case competition experience.

Once selected, the team started work on the competition package from the Whitman School, with less than two weeks to come up with solutions. Their business scenario required analysis of trial period marketing data for an upscale Indian hypermarket trying to capture a broader demographic. Although cultural awareness for an unfamiliar market was a factor, the biggest challenge at this stage was time.

“The most difficult thing was scheduling meetings around our own intense school schedules, other group assignments and home life,” explains Mikhailov, who is also president of the Graduate Business Student Association. “The challenge was always, when do we meet?”

To answer this, the team came up with an unusual collaborative strategy for time management – working individually. “What worked for us was taking responsibility for chunks of information, and working individually on solutions,” says Mikhailov. “Our approach was that we should all try to solve the case on our own. Then we could bring our solutions and discuss each side, each potential solution, when we met.”

At Syracuse, the team faces a full day of competition with a 20 to 30 minute presentation to the judging panel, followed by an intense Q&A session. Apart from the usual nerves, Mikhailov knows the team is well prepared; three of the members represented the school in case competition at the MBA games held in Hamilton, Ontario, in January.

Mikhailov credits the strong encouragement and support from the MBA program to take part in these case competitions for their success so far. All the team members belong to the case competition club at the Beedie School of Business, which coaches students to represent the school in external competitions. This was good preparation for the Whitman event.

“Case competitions are just one of the teaching methods you’re exposed to here at Beedie,” he says. “In the case competition club we get to practice and prepare in a safe environment.”

Participation in events such as these also demonstrates this year’s MBA cohort’s enthusiasm towards the program. “A lot of us want to utilize our year at school to its full capacity,” says Mikhailov. “Just going to class isn’t what the program is all about. It’s everything that’s outside the classroom that makes it that much more worthwhile.”

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