Tag Archives: Business Competitions

The journey to victory at Dell Case Competition 2015

Contributed by MBA students: Kevin, Moohwan and SungWon

As MBA candidates and future leaders of a dynamically changing business environment, how do we define our success and measure our learning progress? Our answer to the question was to participate in business case competitions, as we believe that the ability to apply practical industrial knowledge and to demonstrate our inner potential is a vital criterion for success.

In view of this, the inter-university Case Competition organised by Dell was a great opportunity for us to apply what we have learnt in class and to leverage on our skillsets such as collaborative team work, efficient time management, application of effective framework and compelling presentation. We knew that the competition would be challenging and require significant commitment and sacrifice but we decided to take up the challenge and embark on this journey to achieve our very first milestone.

The case competition consisted of two rounds. The first round was evaluated based on a five-minute video recording on the topic of Dell’s supply chain management, and the second round was carried out at Dell’s office amongst the selected teams, based on the result of the first round. In total, 17 teams participated from three universities, namely NTU, NUS and SP Jain. Four teams were promoted to the final round; two teams came from NUS and one each from NTU and SP Jain, respectively.


The team, DellTaForce was voluntarily and carefully formed on our own by taking several criteria into consideration in order to optimise the team potential and synergy. One important, though often neglected criteria, is how the different individuals, with their expertise and professional backgrounds can complement and work with one another in a team. With that in mind, we finally formed a team consisting of three members with over five years’ of career experience in different business areas, namely, management consulting, strategy planning, and engineering. The mix of diverse background helped significantly throughout the Dell case competition as the different perspectives of each member allowed us to bring a wide range of ideas that an individual by him or herself might not be able to generate.

During the analysis of the case studies, we set the most important and fundamental rule upfront, which was to respect and encourage each other for all meetings. The small initiative paid off as the team members were able to share their ideas confidently, leading to fruitful brainstorming. No matter what idea was brought up, we considered all of them worthy of discussion and talked about it until we reached a consensus.

The challenging parts that we have encountered were mainly ideation relating to supply chain management business domain, as none of us had previous professional experience in that field. To address the issue, we proactively approached professors to guide us on process validation and viable examples for ideation. We had to instill a confident mindset in ourselves that we are the expert in the supply chain management as far as the case is concerned.


Another challenge that we had to work on was the professional presentation for the final round. As the team consisting of non-native English speakers, our pressing issue was to enhance our effective speech in a professional and convincing manner. To quickly equip ourselves with the necessary presentation skills within a short timeframe, we focused on practicing, preparing Q&As, and non-verbal communication cues such as posture, eye contact, attire and more. The intensive practice sessions continued all the way till the final presentation date. Although it was not perfect at the end, we certainly made visible improvement to deliver our idea to the panel judges. Last but not least, most importantly, we gained confidence in public speaking.

Our determination, specific goal setting, collaborative teamwork, consistent discipline, sincere commitment and specific plan to achieve our common goal played significant parts in helping us win this case competition.

The key takeaway from the experience was that when all the attributes of success are applied collectively, the likelihood of winning will definitely increase as it creates synergistic effect as long as everyone plays their part responsibly.

We would like to attribute our glorious success to Professor Vijay Sethi and Professor Peter Giulioni who were willing to spend their personal time to help us, especially when our progress was stagnated and when we were occasionally demotivated. It was a great achievement as a start and we strongly believe that Nanyang MBA’s journey for business case competition will continue thriving.

Just another case competition – just another rewarding experience

By: Steven Quimby, American, Nanyang MBA Participant, Intake 2011

Right from the very beginning when we first entered the Nanyang campus, we were told about the business plan competition opportunities ahead of us. Well, the preparation and the expectations began when Prof Vijay Sethi, told us about the various competitions NBS participates in. Impressed and enthusiastic, a lot of us took the New Venture Practicum course, which ran across a couple of terms and which Prof Sethi teaches. Then the preparations start, teams were formed, expectations set and preparations were underway. As John Molson MBA International Case Competition was the first competition to be available for the cohort to participate in and one of the most established and prestigious competition of its kind – four of us, Kishan and Parul from India, Janine from Germany and yours truly, from USA, rose up to the challenge and formed The NANYANG MBA team that would compete in this competition.

The NANYANG MBA team – Janine from Germany, Parul and Kishan from India, and yours truly Steven from USA

The road to the competition was extremely challenging, yet, fulfilling – we were subjected to the intensity and rigor of case preparation – a lot of preparation, feedback and practice with different cases to prepare us to compete against other b-schools.
There were a total of 5 business cases, one of which is a live case presentation by a major company about a real-life business challenge that the company is facing. The 36 teams were divided into different divisions, and Nanyang was in Bombardier Division competing against b-schools from Germany, Canada, USA and Singapore. We put our heads together and set our sights to win every case. But we were also in the midst of like-minded individuals as we lost two out of five cases. Despite this, we still felt like winners – we pushed the envelope and showcased our capabilities and expertise. Of course, this would not be possible, if not for the expert guidance of our mentor and coach, Prof Vijay Sethi.

Continue reading Just another case competition – just another rewarding experience

International Case Competition, CA World 2011 – Viva Las Vegas

By Justus Kaiser, German, Nanyang MBA Participant, Intake 2011

Nanyang Business School (NBS) sent a team comprising of MBA students Akhil Mehta, Siddharth Sachdev, and myself to the third International Case Competition on the Strategic Value of IT in Management, held at CA World 2011, Las Vegas. CA Technologies is a leading IT management and software company, with headquarters in New York, and offices all over the world.

The competition started with thirty teams from Asia, North America and Europe divided across 5 regions. The teams first competed in regional rounds, then the five region winners along with the remaining top five teams, competed in the international finals. The Nanyang Business School (NBS) team competed against four other teams from India, China and Australia in the Asia region and was selected to compete in the international finals.

The international finals had a live case where the teams were required to suggest new revenue models for Visa (the credit card company) using their IT infrastructure capabilities and the data available to them. The finalists got the case two weeks before flying to Las Vegas to make a presentation without taking any outside help. Upon reaching Las Vegas, the teams were given a ‘twist’, 12 hours before the presentation and were required to make changes to the presentation to accommodate this twist.

Continue reading International Case Competition, CA World 2011 – Viva Las Vegas

The 2011 Asia Venture Challenge

Author: Sheetal Nanwani, MBA Student

The Asia Venture Challenge [formerly known as Asian Moot Competition] was a thoroughly enjoyable experience this year, and my team and I are proud to have been part of such an event! Bangkok, Thailand is such a lovely place.

While we were not able to bring home any awards from the event, presenting to venture capitalists (VCs) and senior executive judges within a competition setting was an invaluable experience.

We are aware of the things we’ve gained through this ordeal – experience, networking opportunities and contacts from an international pool of talents, many from the top-ranked schools in Asia.

We spent a lot of time preparing for these three-days and to me, it’s definitely worth the time and effort. On our first day, we had fun setting up a booth to advertise our business venture.

After setting up the booth, we launched into The Rocket Pitch competition, which is a minute-long pitch to potential investors. Last year, Nanyang’s Philip Buchan won the equivalent elevator pitch. Vincent Teo, Malaysian,  took the reigns on this one, and though he didn’t win the pitch, he found that he learned a lot from the experience.

The second day was the busiest. We had four activities planned: The Divisional Round, Group Lunch, Playoff Round, and Cocktail Reception. During the Divisional Round, we were to pitch our business idea as a team, and though we ran a little short on time during the actual presentation, we did handle ourselves well during the Q&A session. We also watched other teams’ presentations and were impressed by some of the ones we saw.

Relaxation came after. The cocktail reception was great!

During the reception, we mingled with the other participants. In particular, the team spent a lot of time mingling with members of HKU and HKUST, and it’s a joy to know them.

The final day came fast! We participated in the Challenge Round, which was such a thrill, I must say. Our presentation went smoothly, and was a unique experience given the format is different than the typical MBA presentation of a 100% scripted presentation followed by questions.

The teams presenting in the finals impressed us, and we learned from them as well. The day flew by and before we knew it, it was already time for the Closing Ceremony. It was our final chance to network and to have fun with the others. It really was a nice end to such an exciting week.

I was really fortunate to work with the team, and it was a great opportunity I’m glad we took together.

The VCIC – surviving the intensity of the competition and investing time in a simulated investment environment

Author: Kelvin Tey, Singapore, Nanyang MBA Student

The exams at Nanyang had just ended and here we were ready to hop onto the next big thing: preparations for the regional Venture capital Investment Competition or VCIC in short [investments] held in Hyderabad!

When we arrived in Hyderabad, we were greeted by our host, Ashutosh Singh, a representative from the Indian School of Business (ISB). Both teams set off to the beautiful ISB campus, located just about half an hour from the airport. We were definitely looking forward to our two-day stay there since we met with such a dynamic campus upon first glance.

It was past midnight when we arrived but the campus was vibrant with life and loud music! Ashutosh explained that since the students would be graduating in May, and they were just enjoying the time they had left in the school.

We had only five hours of rest before the team met at 8am for our authentic Indian breakfast. The canteen and scenery was great, and the spread was mouth-watering. If you’re a fan of vegetarian Indian food, you definitely should try the food at ISB! Here’s a peak of the campus:

Following the extremely satisfying breakfast, we headed to Irfan’s room for a discussion.

We had an intense group discussion, with questions, answers and rebuttals all thrown in the open. We drilled each other on the merits and weaknesses of the different companies. We really had to push ourselves since we were only to be given 15 minutes to decide on the actual day. Time completely flew by and it was suddenly already 7pm, time to go for the scheduled cocktail.

It was a great experience, interacting with the hosts and other participants. We understood more about the different nationalities, as well as experiences and campus life in ISB. It’s too bad I’m already in my final year, otherwise I definitely wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to apply for an exchange program at ISB!

After the cocktail, we proceeded to the dining hall. We had several rounds of beer and then we were served the “Hyderabad Nasi Briyani”. Our host had mentioned that a stay in Hyderabad wouldn’t be complete without tasting this most famous local dish, and it truly was scrumptious!

The next thing should naturally be to wash up and head to bed but no, the team headed back to the library to solidify our analyses and arguments. Fortunately, none of us is tipsy so we managed a four-hour intensive discussion on our cases once more. Coffee was a constant drink  for all of us, and finally at 4am, we finally headed back to our rooms. I told myself, “Kelvin, you better get some sleep.” I was still so anxious about the competition!

“The Big Event” day came, and this time, breakfast was much too quick. We gathered at the competition venue and met with the venture capitalists, the four start-up entrepreneurs.

We were tasked to make the choice to invest in only one company, and we were to choose between Sacona, United Mobile Apps, Quantama and Nuru.

During their presentations, you can really feel the dedication and determination of the entrepreneurs. It was so exciting to watch!

After the presentations, our belief in choosing to invest in Nuru, a start-up company that provides low power energy solutions to households in rural areas, was reaffirmed. During those intense ninety minutes, we were shuttling between different seminar rooms, as we posed our questions to the entrepreneurs, seeking to either clarify our doubts or strengthen our investment thesis. There was never a dull moment!

Subsequently, we ‘locked’ ourselves in a room to prepare our final investment thesis and to make our final investment decision. Our conclusion was still to go with Nuru, so we moved onto discussing our strategy and approach to the investment process.

We were too engrossed with our work that we completely forgot about lunch! Fortunately, and thankfully, our gracious host brought us some food.

By 3.30pm, we were led to a lecture theatre, where we were to propose our investment thesis to the panel of venture capitalists, as well as the entrepreneurs from Nuru.

Immediately after the presentation, we were given feedback on our approach and investment decisions. Receiving advise from a panel of seasoned venture capitalists was such a privilege as well as an honour. Personally, that was the biggest takeaway from the entire trip. Their advise and comments were highly insightful and gave us many more options to explore. It made us view our work in different angles, and it definitely broadened my scope of thought.

We were able to relax only when it was time to wait for the results. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, and it was sad that we didn’t manage to bring glory back to the Nanyang Business School. However, I don’t think there was any loss at all. The trip was memorable and the experience is irreplaceable.

Regardless of the outcome, the hard work was worth it. I strongly encourage the incoming students to participate in the VCIC competition. It was such a rewarding journey, especially if they desire to get into the investment field.

John Molson Experience – getting a feel of a global business competition

Written by                      The NANYANG MBA 2011 Team to John Molson

Alexander Pflock (Full time / Germany),Joseph Arollado (Full time / Philippines)

Irfan Khan (Full time / USA)

Manu Muraleedharan (Full time Double Degree Waseda / India)

Marcus Yan (Full time Double Degree Waseda / Singapore)

For the 3rd straight year, Nanyang is sending a team for the 30th John Molson Case Competition in Canada, held from 3 to 8 Jan 2011. Our team is representing the Nanyang Business School, after beating a few teams at Nanyang. he selection process for the NBS team was an in-class case competition  among aspiring teams, during the New Venture Practicum course. We were really excited when we heard about our being chosen as the team  and were proud to represent NTU at the competition.

On the first day, the committee organized a city chase in the morning to familiarize the participants with the city and the neighborhood. After going through administrative procedures in the afternoon, we had the opportunity to meet the other 35 competing schools at the cocktail lounge.

Our Team, comprised of Irfan , Alex , Marcus  ,Manu and Joseph newly arrived at the competition center.

On the second day, all the participants had their game faces on as they eagerly waited for the actual competition to start.  The schedule and mechanics of the competition were straight forward.  The entire competition lasts for a total of five days.  Three and a half days were allocated for elimination, half a day for semi-finals and the last day for the finals. 36 competing teams were segregated into 6 divisions.  The elimination round was a head-to-head, round-robin system where we would have to compete against the other 5 teams in our division.  The scoring system was a bit complicated.  Judges would have to split a total of 11 points between the competitors.  The gap between the winner and loser can be as wide as 11 – 0, or as close as 6 – 5.  The actual mechanic for the case analysis and presentation was again pretty simple.  Groups were brought in to isolated rooms wherein they were given three hours to analyze a case.  After three hours, teams would have to proceed to the presentation room where they were given 25 minutes to present, and 15 minutes to answer questions from the judges. The exceptions were the “live” case in which a team is given only 2 hours to prepare and a “short” case wherein a team had only 15 minutes to present. The analysis was all written down in transparencies and presented using an over-head projector.

Our Team, sitting relaxed in the presentation board room, while waiting for the competition.

The competition was very tough as most of the schools came in well prepared. Just like our school, many schools had a special course designed specifically to prepare students for this competition.  Though the strategies or analysis were quite similar across the teams, the presentation styles were clearly different.  Some teams were really polished, in the sense that they already had a certain routine prepared.  They were even trained on using the transparencies which was evident with creation of on the fly templates on transparency.

Given the amount of lead time between selection and the competition and the number of relevant courses our team members have done, we performed really well. We believe that some aspects of the competition, specifically presentation, can be learned and further improved. On the other hand, we felt really proud of ourselves, knowing that our ideas and creativity gave us an edge over our competitors.  In fact, we were able to beat Queen’s School of Business who were the runner-up at the end.  All-in-all, the competition gave our team valuable insights about our strengths, weaknesses and team dynamics.  One lesson we learned is that our team excelled in thinking out of the box. Furthermore, our team members complimented each other in terms of knowledge and contributions. On the other hand, we realized that presenting collectively is a skill that we had taken for granted. In addition, we understood the importance of composure in such competitions.

On the lighter side, the organizing committee made sure all the 36 schools got enough time to interact with each other. To achieve this, they organized a networking event every evening – cocktail night, ball dance, hockey night. They even had a learning session for ball dance. We also attended informal networking sessions every night at the hotel, where we discussed the proceedings of the day and also discussed on the strategy changes the next day. The best part about this competition was that not only we got to meet peers from schools all around the world, but also the coaches of those schools were open to sharing where they thought our team was going wrong and what should we focus on. So, the competitors during the day time became your friends and teachers in the evening.

Our team, spending some light moments, trying out the cold outdoors, with some of the competing students,

Second Place, in Mobie-ODAI Competition!

Recently, Hitachi and A-star developed a Mobile Application Platform called “Plog-in” to
collect and record activities done by users on the mobile phone. Mobie-ODAI Idea
generation required contestants to come up with ideas that utilized this platform
effectively. The contest started in October 2009 with initial submission of a 1-page
write-up detailing our ideas.

Subsequently, the short-listed teams were expected to make a presentation and a
business plan based on the idea that we had already submitted. 3 teams amongst the
shortlisted teams were then chosen to present at the finals of the competition held in
Fusionpolis. I was the only team with a single person in the Idea generation category.

I participated in this competition because it required an understanding of the technology
underlying the Plog-in platform and then develop ideas which could effectively utilize
the platform and at the same time made business sense to be developed. The
competition helped me in going through the nuances of developing a business plan
based on an application platform developed by a 3rd party. Since the competition
required me to setup a booth, I also made a short video explaining my idea.

I am proud to announce, I came in 2nd!

Check out my video here:

Check out the results website here:

Author: Girish Muzumdar