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New Case Competition Attracts Top Schools

McGill University, home of Desautels Faculty of Management - uvanu.com photo

McGill University, home of Desautels Faculty of Management – uvanu.com photo

When in Rome, of course, you behave like a Roman. And when in Montreal at the Desautels Faculty of Management for a case competition, you apply the integrated management approach.

The McGill University business school in Montreal, Canada will hold its inaugural case competition March 26 to 28. Six schools, three from the U.S. and three from Canada, will battle it out over a live case – a situation affecting the competition’s keynote sponsor, a local pharmaceutical company that organizers are not yet naming.

“It’s very much a real, live, and relevant situation,” says McGill Desautels Integrated Management Competition co-chair, Desautels MBA candidate Liam Sobey. “It is something that is very real, and something that hopefully will have some impact on the firm itself.”

The schools competing in the invitation-only event are the Yale University School of Management; Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business; USC Marshall School of Business; York University Schulich School of Business; McMaster University DeGroote School of Business; and Desautels.

ONE PROBLEM, MANY LENSES

At Desautels, the curriculum is founded on “integrated management,” an approach that requires students to examine business challenges from multiple perspectives, such as from the viewpoints of operations, strategy, finance, supply chain, and HR.

Desautels case competition co-chair Liam Sobey

Desautels case competition co-chair Liam Sobey

“You look at different business problems and business issues through a number of different lenses. The ultimate goal is that we’re not making decisions in silos. In real life, very rarely do you sit around a table and there’s only people from one department.

“We wanted to ensure that our case competition reflected that methodology,” Sobey says. “One of the main components on which (team’s proposals will) be reviewed is how integrative they are in nature.”

Teams will receive some advance information on the keynote sponsor company, concerning such aspects as strategy and current challenges, which they can use to plan their proposals. An introductory seminar, led by the head of Desautels’ integrated management institute, Steve Maguire, will provide an overview of the integrated management methodology.

EVEN THE LOSERS WILL WIN

The pharmaceutical company’s CFO will deliver the case, taking about 15 minutes, and students and school representatives will have about 45 minutes to ask questions. Then they’ll have 25 hours to come up with their solutions. The eight judges, including representatives from sponsors Deloitte and Scotiabank, plus the CEO, CFO and head of business development from the pharmaceutical company, will provide feedback to all six teams.

“That’s not always something that’s provided in case competitions,” Sobey says. “Five of the six teams won’t win, and we wanted to make sure they had some feedback on how they did.”

The winner will take the $5,000 (Canadian) cash prize.

Selection of sponsors, says Sobey, also reflects the integrated management approach, with the companies representing various sectors. Sponsors include Scotiabank and Capital One, mass media company Bell Media, and Grant Thornton.

The competition will provide an opportunity for networking, among students, and between students and sponsors. “We wanted to ensure that we’re able to create and sustain relationships,” Sobey says. “It’s a great opportunity – for an intense three days you’re with these great minds. There’s a component of recruitment involved, for sure.”

The Desautels case competition is intended to be an annual event, with a different theme each year.

HIGH-PROFILE U.S. CASE COMPETITIONS

In holding a case competition, Desautels joins high-profile U.S. schools. Northwestern University holds the Kellogg Biotech & Healthcare Case Competition, this year won by a team of University of Chicago Booth School MBA students.

Wharton holds the Wharton MBA Buyout Case Competition, focused on a proposed private equity buyout transaction, and won this year and last by teams from the Kellogg School of Management.