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MSc students tackle real-world challenge through Hack the Case

Nov 27, 2020

Hack the Case winners

The winning team, Team 4.

Not often do students get a chance to work with huge amounts of real company data. Most of the time, they are given clean data that is ready to be analyzed. But learning to effectively process, clean, and handle big data is an important skill that will prepare them for the challenges of the real world.

Enter the Hack the Case analytics competition, presented by Ivey in partnership with Deloitte, SAS, Scotiabank, and the Centre for Advanced Computing, where students in Ivey’s MSc Business Analytics stream are challenged to solve a real company’s data-driven problem. For this year’s challenge, which ran Nov. 9-27, the students were given access to data from Scotiabank’s customer loyalty programs and asked to recommend ways for the company to increase its primary customer base. Three finalist teams were selected from preliminary presentations and advanced to a final round before Hack the Case judges for a chance at a cash prize. Typically a 10-day in-person event, Hack the Case transitioned to virtual format this year and was extended over three weeks.

“We are thrilled that we were able to adapt Hack the Case to a virtual format this year,” said Greg Zaric, a professor in Management Science and Faculty Director of the MSc Program. “It is one of the most important events in the Business Analytics program, and it represents a great opportunity for our students to work on a real problem, with real data, while receiving mentorship from our corporate partners.”

Access to expert advice

The event also included a storytelling workshop hosted by Deloitte and a career panel and networking session with Omina AI practitioners at Deloitte. Prior to the event kick-off, the students had a training session led by Cristina Anton, an Analytical Training Consultant at SAS Academic Canada.

Real-world insights

Being able to work on a real-life business problem was a highlight for the students. Here are a few of their takeaways:

“Tackling this case with my team from start to finish has been filled with many challenges, debates, changes to the original plan, and technical learning. An event like Hack the Case simulates real work experience, helping everyone develop themselves further by applying and learning new skills.”
– Yash Bhatt        

“I’ve learned how unstructured real-life data can be, and how to work with complex problems, formulate and test different ideas, and implement the best solution.”
– Nikhil Sant

“Hack the Case helped me to further exercise my critical thinking skills and ability to derive insights. I am grateful that our corporate partners and program services were able to pivot to offer this event online. In working virtually with a large dataset and with a tight turnaround period, this competition helped to further enhance my collaboration skills and ability to co-ordinate the efforts of my team. I know this skill will be leveraged in my future career because of how important agile teams have become during this pandemic.”
– Talissa Watson

Meet the Hack the Case judges

Thank you to all of the Hack the Case judges from Deloitte, SAS, Scotiabank, and Ivey.

Tudor Boiangu, Manager, Omnia AI;
Liane Catalfo, Manager, Health & Life Sciences, Omnia AI;
Nicholas Hoell, Senior Consultant, Data Science;
Snehal Patel, Senior Manager, Omnia AI; and,
Michael Vinelli, Manager, Omnia AI.

Shima Pishnamaz, Solutions Specialist, Data Sciences;
Tina Schweihofer, Director, Customer Advisory;
Alexander Terado, Senior Associate Solutions Engineer – Financial Services; and,
Harsh Vardhan, MBA ’12, Senior Solutions Architect.

Jeff Moores, Vice President, Client Services;
David Page, Director, Loyalty Development;
Mackenzie Williams-White Senior Manager, Partnership Marketing; and,
Sheena Yau, Director, Loyalty Analytics.

Mehmet Begen, Associate Professor, Management Science;
Tiffany Bayley, Assistant Professor, Management Science;
Aysajan Eziz, Assistant Professor, Management Science; and,
Kyle Maclean, HBA ’12, PhD ’17, Assistant Professor, Management Science.

And the winners are…

Congratulations to the winning team, Team 4: Victoria Dou, Po-Ting Lee, Jessica Newby, Vu Nguyen, Nikhil Sant, and Archan Shah.

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