MBA Student

The Joy and Loathing of Case Competitions

I recently participated in a group case competition (most details will be withheld). Among others, the following lessons were learned: sleep is overrated, caffeinated chocolate and Starburst are good motivators, and hard work is contagious.

Okay, yes I did learn much more than that when it comes to business sense and acumen. Business school is designed to teach and enhance those incredibly important skills. Case competitions are designed to test your limits, creatively and emotionally. Unlike presentations in class, case competitions have a lot more at stake. Class presentations affect your grade; case competitions usually come with interview opportunities and cash. All are effective motivators, but I must say I like the latter two.

We received our case two weeks in advance of the competition. That was actually quite a surprise to us as we had much less time for other competitions in which we separately participated. However, it might as well have come in four days before the competition because that is when my group went into full overdrive. We were most effective under pressure knowing that we had to submit a PowerPoint deck the day before the actual competition (we submitted it one minute before the deadline). After that, we left one day to finalize our storyline and individual parts. It caused distinct contradictory feelings: excitement and stress; confidence and intimidation; and joy and loathing.

Overall, the case competition was a complete thrill and an invaluable learning experience. We were able to meet intelligent and motivated students from other business schools that were competing, which was a great opportunity to expand our growing knowledge and network. I am excited to participate in another one, but I have to catch up on some sanity and sleep before my next attempt.

Finally, I want to send a huge shout out and thank you to my teammates. You know who you are.

If you have any questions about case competitions, forming teams, or strategies we used, leave some comments.


Lara Donato (2)Lara Donato is a first year Global MBA student at George Washington University in Washington, DC and Forte Fellow 2016. She is originally from New York but took a jump down south for college at the University of Virginia. After spending a semester abroad in Sydney, Australia, Lara caught the wanderlust bug and now takes any opportunity to travel the world. In the limited free time she has, Lara enjoys reading Wired magazine, playing volleyball, and spending time with friends and family.

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