I have seen competitions like the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Case Competition and the Australian Secondary Schools’ Case Competition. What is the appeal of case competitions generally?
It’s great to see you showing a keen interest in case competitions at such an early stage! I believe the value of doing case competitions spans three key areas: skill development, networking, career preparation.
Whilst studying subjects such as accounting and economics, both at school and university, gives you a strong knowledge of the theory behind such practices, applying what you learn arguably requires an entirely different skill-set. Case competitions provide a reasonably authentic environment in which you can apply the accounting, finance, and economic knowledge you have built up in the classroom to real-world case problems. These case problems serve the dual function of developing your critical thinking and problem solving ability, whilst simultaneously identifying any glaring gaps in your theoretical knowledge. Both of these help develop and prepare you for the challenges of a career in the management consulting field.
Beyond this, case competitions also act as a great way to improve your public speaking, presentational ability and confidence. Competitions typically involve an oral presentation, which will require you to present your strategies to a panel of judges.
Often times these competitions are judged by industry professionals. At the conclusion of each competition there will typically be an opportunity for you to chat to the judges, receive feedback, and network. Any professional will tell you that developing a network is incredibly helpful, and will likely open up a range of opportunities for you to explore potential job opportunities and fast-track your career development.
Due to the skills they allow you to develop, going through case competitions can be valuable regardless of which career pathway you’re contemplating. If, however, you are set on a career in management consulting, then they are infinitely more valuable. Most management consulting recruitment processes will include a case interview. In this interview you will be required to read a case, not dissimilar from the types you get in these competitions, and to answer a series of questions on this case under tight time constraints.
Without having gone through limited preparation case competitions in the past, tackling this challenge in the stressful format of a job/internship interview can be incredibly challenging and intimidating. As with anything, practice will help prepare you to tackle this inevitable challenge with confidence, and will help you produce a much more attractive set of answers.
Case competitions are incredibly challenging, but also incredibly fun. Competing at an international level provides you the opportunity to travel to exciting places (last year I represented New Zealand at a Global Case Competition final in Poland), and to meet some truly incredible people. All in all, I would strongly recommend any student to try out a case competition. Not only will it be an incredible learning experience, but you may discover a passion for management consulting that you never knew you had!
Can’t stress enough how incredibly fun and exciting the experience is, wedged between cutthroat competition at the OGGB study break rooms, eavesdropping the whispers of strategy next door in futility.
If you’re considering careers in law, sales, marketing, property or any jobs that require a recruitment interview, case competitions will arm you with the full-suite of skills to dominate your performance.
As the cases are highly informative and although some business knowledge of common concepts and McKinsey style solutions can be advantageous, engineering students whose analytical minds can rival those of finance / accountants are also encouraged to participate to broaden the scope of knowledge and exposed to the intersections between science and commerce.