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In my last quarter of business school I participated in a business case competition with three of my classmates at DePaul. This is one of the most prestigious competitions in the country each year. Our 65 competitors included representatives from top tier and international MBA programs. What makes this competition unique is that it focuses on Corporate Social Responsibility and uses real-life, current business challenges. Our case was to create a low-cost, scalable. and sustainable recycling program for Ball Corporation (a B2B company) to implement that could be used to measurably increase consumer recycling rates.
A preliminary round narrowed the field down to the top 20 teams. It consisted of being presented the case which was about 10 pages of materials including the prompt and a brief background of Ball Corp. and a short timeline of 10 days to create a robust solution in only 10 slides and 750 words that, in theory, could be presented to C-level executives. This was a grueling process but our team was truly proud of our finished result.
After learning we earned a spot in the next round, we traveled to Boulder, CO to compete in the final rounds of competition at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The second round consisted of a 10 minute presentation to a panel of local business leaders and ten days prior to the competition to prepare based on the new prompt. Our new materials offered further detail about the company and a twist to the previous prompt, asking us to also dive deeper into our solution in our presentations. After another grueling preparation, we arrived in Boulder to learn of yet another twist at 10:00pm the night before and proceeded to work until the morning hours perfecting the presentation for the morning.
We found out we made it to the final round of five teams and shortly thereafter learned that we drew the first slot in the final round, meaning that of the final teams we had the least amount of time to make improvements to our morning presentation. Our team saved our most polished presentation for the final and left proud of the result no matter what place we finished.
Our team finished in third place and the cash prize awarded to us was just the icing on an amazing experience. We placed higher than any DePaul team had ever placed at this competition and the two teams that beat us were top tier MBA programs, one of them being my alma mater, the University of Southern California. Of the takeaways from this experience, I am most proud of our teamwork and the process we used to achieve our final result. As a team of 4 intelligent, opinionated business professionals we respectfully debated over even the smallest details of our solution until we could all agree on a compromise and be proud of the solution, and the finished result was far better than any of us could achieve on our own.