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  • HP's Global Consulting Challenge

    Illinois MBA GCC Team
    Illinois MBA GCC Team

    Working with the Admissions team, I’ve noticed that a lot of our perspective students are interested in case competitions and what they entail. My good friend and second-year MBA student, Tim Kingery, was on the Illinois MBA team for the HP Global Consulting Challenge Case Competition that competed a couple weekends ago. I spent some time with Tim to learn more about his experience.  

    Hewlett-Packard (HP) hosted the University of Southern California’s (USC Marshall) Global Consulting Challenge (GCC) with a three-prompt case competition. The Illinois MBA program was invited specifically by HP to join the GCC as a vehicle for HP’s expanded recruiting. Professor Kathryn Rybka sought out second-year MBA student, Tim Kingery, as team captain and held an internal case competition to select the other four candidates. Joining Tim were first-year MBA students Steven Houlihan, Bohr-Young Tsao, Derek Dion, and Saurabh Shirolkar.

    The competition consisted of three presentations to three different audiences: 1) addressing trend questions before a panel of industry experts; 2) addressing go-to-market questions before a panel of consultants and IT service professionals; and 3) presenting a specific analysis and recommendation to the sponsoring company, HP. During the month before the final competition, two public conference calls were held for the Industry and Consulting prompts and one private call between a VP at HP and each team. Teams joining the competition were: USC, UCLA, Hong Kong UST, UC Berkeley, Michigan, Copenhagen Business School, Berkeley, and Illinois.

    No teams were allowed to view any of the other presentations and each team was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement before competing. Likewise, according to the rules of the competition, teams could not speak with anyone after the first prompt was released and were confined to utilize internet/library research tools alone on their honor. Winners this year included USC for the overall competition and UCLA, HKUST, and Copenhagen for best in the three separate presentation rooms.

    When asked how Tim thought the Illinois MBA team did, he stated:

    “Overall, our team felt we presented valuable ideas that could help grow HP’s business. The judges appreciated our presentation skills, Q&A, and boldness even if they didn’t latch on to our suggestions. We’re very proud of what we presented either way. One difficulty of case competitions is that there is no way to know “how much” or “in what way” the winners of the competition differed from our strategies or our presentations since we were not able to view their presentations.”

    I appreciate Tim’s insight in how this particular case competition worked as it enables us to imagine what being a part of this ordeal would have been like. While the Illinois MBA program did not win this year, it is obvious from Tim’s statement that everyone on the team learned a lot about the process and each other. Case competitions are important because they teach us how to deal with real-life situations in a fast and timely manner. While winning is great, the experience and lessons learned are what really matters.