Tuesday, April 12, 2011

36 international teams, 7 cases, 5 friends… One Glorious Win.

One of the largest and oldest MBA Case competitions in the world, the John Molson International Case Competition is an MBA student’s equivalent of participating in the Olympic Games. This year’s 30th anniversary attracted over 180 of the world’s brightest and most driven MBA students. On opening day, teams from Singapore, Sweden, Germany, USA, Canada, Portugal and France (to name a few) mingled with organizers and judges from some of the business world’s most illustrious companies. The general feeling in the room could immediately be sensed: everyone was both eager and nervous for this 5-day adventure to unfold… and what an adventure it turned out to be!

Our time during this hectic week was shared between cases, networking events, activities, dinners and galas… and thankfully, a few hours of well-earned rest. Every morning, sitting there with my team while waiting for the case to be handed to us had to be the most nerve-racking moment for me every day. We felt pulled in two different directions: on one hand, we loved the rush of adrenaline and could not wait to dive into the case and present to a panel of high-profile judges, and on the other hand, not knowing the case topic and what was in store for us was unbearable. Case topics would range from marketing and negotiation issues to merger and acquisition decisions.

After a whirl-wind week of cracking cases, making business contacts and forming friendships around the globe, my team went the full-distance and made it to the finals, placing first in North America and top two in the world. Being on stage and on camera, while being grilled by a panel felt like the world’s most intense job interview. In fact, it led to actual job interviews for both my fellow participants and myself.

Looking back on it all, I attribute our win to not only my amazing team members but also the intense training that we unknowingly went through as part of our MBA. Presenting and fielding difficult questions had become second nature to us, as we were used to almost weekly presentations. Being a team-based program, Canada’s Queen’s School of Business taught us how to work well together under pressure and identify the critical point of a discussion when it began to generate diminishing returns. We knew how to provide each other with constructive criticism and more importantly, how to accept and utilize this feedback.

This case competition has made it to the top of my list of amazing MBA experiences. Not only did I learn a lot about business, but I learned even more about myself and what I was capable of accomplishing under such demanding circumstances. I now find myself at the opening pages of a new adventure, my MBA exchange in Paris. As I write this blog post and think of what a priceless experience the case competition has been for me, I look out of this Paris apartment and wonder just what this new experience will have in store for my “fellow” Forte Fellow, Kate Murphy and I…. and I just can’t wait to find out!

Christal Agostino
Queen’s University School of Business
Forte Fellow, Class of 2012

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