Warwick Economics student reaches the finals of JMUCCTuesday 14 May 2019
A Warwick Economics student was part of team that progressed to the finals of the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition (JMUCC).
The John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition (JMUCC) is hosted annually in Montreal, Canada by the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. Twenty four teams from universities around the world compete in business case studies that involve real challenges faced by real companies. These challenges range from finance to sustainability to supply chain management and require teams to think on their feet, particularly in the 3-hour rounds and Q&A sessions.
Arjun Mohan, a second year Undergraduate student studying BSc in Economics was amongst four students chosen to represent the University of Warwick at JMUCC after they competed in the internal Warwick Case Challenge and won. Arjun and his team were then given training provided by the University, which involved practice cases and sessions with professional consultants.
Commenting on the training, Arjun had this to say "Training was challenging as it did not involve technical skills or brainstorming but rather, focused on how to “sell” an idea - a skill not taught in the classroom."
Five Day Overview
Arjun documented each of his days during the JMUCC and reflected on the impact the competition has had on his personal development.
Day 1 - We arrived in Montreal for Day 1 of JMUCC which involved an opening cocktail and ceremony where we had the opportunity to interact with other delegates. This set the tone for what was a competition with a very social environment - great emphasis, was placed on bringing business students from around the world together and encouraging social and professional connections which would exist beyond our week in Montreal.
Day 2 - 4 - These two days consisted of a number of rounds where as a team, we were given three hours of preparation time for the case. Then, we had to present for fifteen to twenty minutes in front of a panel of judges, before a ten-minute Q&A session. Round 1 was about a small accounting firm and involved issues in Finance and Human Resource. In Round 2, we worked with a sustainability problem faced by a large fashion brand. Round 3 was based on a large bank and problems with user experience of their wealth management app.
The highly diversified nature of the cases worked well with our team strategy. We would first rigorously break down the problem presented and understand how it linked to the firm’s bottom line. We would then decide on the targeted customer segments and accordingly develop ideas to solve the problem.
What set our approach apart from the other teams was that we focused not on brainstorming, but on the implement-ability of our ideas. Using the information presented to us and setting up various reasonable assumptions, we would assess the potential impact of our ideas. Then we would focus on the ideas that could bring us to our desired impact and find information to back up our proposals as well as set up a presentation to sell these proposals convincingly to the audience.
Day 5, 6 and 7 - On the fifth day, we spent time reflecting on the performance of our team so far as well as time to go out and explore the city of Montreal. On day six, we were given our final case study and 24 hours to solve it before presenting to a panel of judges on Day 7. This proved to be the most challenging case that we faced as it involved a massive railway freight company and presented problems involving logistics and supply chain management. Eventually, we emerged from every round as the winning team. This very quickly caught the eyes of organisers and other participants as this was our University’s first time at a case competition and we had formed our team just weeks prior to JMUCC.
On the other hand, most teams’ universities had been represented at JMUCC for several years already and they had been preparing for the competition for at least 4 months. I believe that this was a product of our unique, detail-oriented and practical approach which had a laser sharp focus on developing a strong plan of implementation for each of our proposals, rather than merely suggesting creative ideas – as most teams did.
Having won in our division, we were then one of seven teams to progress to the Finals of JMUCC. In the Finals, we re-presented our 24-hour case study proposal in front of a larger audience of approximately 100 people including 10 judges, who were all from the actual company in the case study. Undeniably, this was a nerve-wrecking experience as the audience was large and we even had an accidental slip-up with the PowerPoint clicker provided to us in the middle of the presentation. However, we still put on a fantastic presentation and impressed the judges as we knew our proposal very well and were confident in its ability to solve our client’s problems.
Looking back, JMUCC was an absolutely fantastic experience for many reasons but two in particular stand out. Firstly, I got to know students from many universities around the world and it was eye-opening to hear their perspectives of issues within as well as beyond the scope of the competition. Secondly, I had to solve business problems that I had never come across before for real companies and I then got to present our team solutions to industry professionals and hear their feedback on our presentations. This provided an amazing opportunity to develop my business acumen and not only expand my ability to solve problems, but also my ability to sell my proposals well.