Building bonds and skills through case competition

I just competed in my first case competition ever, it was virtual, and I had never met a single one of my teammates. Honestly, I don’t even know how to best structure that sentence in a logical way that truly captures the essence of this whole experience. To sum it up using adjectives—it was taxing, empowering, and unforgettable.

Now, I had no idea what a case competition was before I entered business school, so I want to explain what it is first. (Feel free to skip this part if you are familiar with a case competition!) A case competition is to business school students as a meet is to swimmers. Not sure if it can be classified as a sport, but I sure did break sweat and tear throughout the process, and it required hours of practice and coaching. In a case competition, teams are presented with a business scenario. These can be real-world or fictional scenarios. For us, the scenario was fictional but closely mirrored real-life events. Teams compete to come up with the most innovative, realistic solutions to address the problem presented in the business scenario. These solutions need to be well researched, also (shoutout to the wonderful team in the Goizueta Business Library—you all are truly amazing). Teams compete by presenting their ideas to a panel of judges and are not only critiqued on their overall ideas and research, they are also judged based on their executive presence and presentation. This is the (very) basic layout of a case competition.

For the past year or so I have had my eye set on attending the National Black MBA Association annual conference, and I knew that Goizueta has traditionally sponsored a team to compete in the case competition. With it being my last year in business school, I wanted to take on as many opportunities as possible while I still could. So, I made sure to make my interest in joining the team known. As luck would have it, I was able to join! Truthfully, I thought that I would be placed on the team as an alternate (big mistake—never doubt yourself), but I was given a spot on the team as a full member! I hadn’t met a single teammate prior to our first Zoom meeting, but they all were super sharp and super friendly. I was excited but still nervous.

The days between our first meeting and the two weeks before the competition were a complete blur. I would be lying if I said it was easy. I had to find time to do project research when I wasn’t working or going to (virtual) class. I’d finish class at 9:30 pm and work on our solutions for another couple of hours or I would wake up early to knock out some research before my workday began. On top of finding the time to do our research, we also had to find time to virtually meet as a team as often as we could. We would have three-hour-long meetings at the end of the week and would even meet on weekends as it got closer to presentation time. Some of us have families at home, some of us have full-time jobs, some of us are going through the recruiting process, and each of us are students starting a new semester. Somehow, we all found the time to do what we needed to do, and we were able to lean on each other when we needed a helping hand. This whole experience is exactly what Goizueta Business School means to me. It was challenging, but we helped each other get by, and we all worked our butts off to reach a goal. Throughout the process, we had the full support of our program offices (Full-Time and Evening MBA) and every single professor that we reached out to for help or feedback was there to support us as well. In my previous post, I mentioned that my time at Goizueta has been some of the most supportive years of my academic career. This experience has shown me that once again.

In the end, we did not achieve the outcome that we hoped for as a team, but I did receive a “best presenter” award. I learned so much during this experience and would encourage anyone who is considering a case competition to try it out. Even from behind a computer screen and through Zoom calls, I was able to push myself and grow in many new and unexpected ways. This will forever be one of my greatest memories of my time at Goizueta.

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Kamile Lister

Kamile Lister is an Atlanta transplant, avid traveler, and Goizueta Business School Evening MBA student, and has been a part of the Emory community as an employee since 2017. Kamile has a BBA from The University of Alabama and a career background in recruiting and HR. In her spare time, Kamile enjoys traveling with her fiancé, spending time with friends, and gardening.

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