Skip to Main Content

Case competition connects students with industry challenges

  • Communications
  • |
  • Jun 29, 2017
Case competition connects students with industry challenges

In the real world of business, you have to think on your feet. Making decisions quickly, often with limited information and without consensus.

Ivey’s MBA students had those skills put to the test at the annual three-day MBA Case Competition, June 21-23. Working in teams of six, the students weighed in on three challenges:

  • How a craft beer company transitions to a new clientele;
  • How a mining company might raise capital for a new business strategy; and,
  • Should an Indian natural health care company launch a line of blue jeans?

Same challenges. Different answers.

After analyzing the cases, the teams came up with unique findings and recommendations that they presented to a panel of judges. In fact, the winning team and another finalist team impressed the judges by considering a new approach. They each recommended that the Indian health care company launch a yoga clothing line instead of jeans because it might better fit with the brand.

“A critical point to consider was how the company could leverage their existing brand image and expertise to grow. Our team did not think that launching a jeans line fit with the company’s vision and strategy. Looking back, a big takeaway was to be creative and suggest something that others might not have thought of,” said MBA student Beckie Thain-Blonk, a member of the winning team.

Teamwork trumps all

Thain-Blonk also attributes her team’s success to working with a diverse group of people. She said her team clicked right away and learned that alignment is critical.

“We learned from our previous rounds that it was very important to have everyone on the same page early on. I think this is what helped us be successful in later rounds,” she said.

The value of feedback

MBA student Katherine McIlveen-Brown also said she learned from the diverse perspectives, including the judges’ feedback. A panel of judges – including faculty, staff, alumni, and senior executives from The Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte Digital, Johnson & Johnson, and TD Bank Group – helped the students to broaden their thinking.

“I learned to be open to feedback and also about the power of visual communication. The panellists had some tough questions and encouraged us to consider elements beyond the boundaries of the case,” said McIlveen-Brown.   

Paying it forward

Andrew Godfrey, MBA ’14, remembers participating in the MBA case competition back when it was sponsored by McKinsey & Company. It taught him how to tackle a problem from different angles. Now, as an Engagement Manager at Deloitte Digital, he decided to volunteer as a judge so he could share the industry perspective.

“Our job is to help the students think about how clients or investors or leadership teams will think about the suggestions they are making,” he said. “We try to push and prod them and make sure they consider the things that we might find important when we’re pitching solutions to clients. You need a compelling story, otherwise you’ll never sell it.”

A win-win situation

Godfrey said Deloitte Digital hires a lot of MBA graduates so participating as a judge gave him a chance to see how the students perform on the fly with limited information – a necessary skill for consulting.

Judy Chong, Director of Talent Acquisition at Johnson & Johnson Talent Acquisition, Canada, said she was impressed by the students’ demonstration of strategy and analytics.

“For many years, we have been impressed with the calibre of the students in the Ivey MBA program so participating in this case competition was a wonderful opportunity to observe students in action as part of their curriculum,” she said.

And the winners are…

Team 8 – Jonathan La Rose, Beckie Thain-Blonk, Tim Blonk, Bobby Missar, Mourad Soliman, and Adam Gawn.


Team 9 – Duncan Furrer, Tilak Mathur, Patrick Mulherin, Patrick Booth, Arushi Raina, and Jason Sookdeo; and,  

Team 18 – Ankita Gupta, Izzak Trotter-Ries, Souvonik De, Jessica Tsuella, Vignesh Gopalakrishnan Iyer, and Simrat Grewal.