February 03, 2006

Case Wizards won Deloitte Case CompetitionLOS ANGELES - It’s 6:30p.m. on a Thursday. You and your fellow consultants are about to log-off and head out when an email from a senior partner stops you in your tracks. It reads: “I just got back from a meeting with Dietrich Mateschitz, the Founder and Managing Partner of Red Bull ...”

The email goes on to say that Dietrich is considering whether he should continue growing the company or cash out. He is considering three ways to grow the company and would like your thoughts on the various options. You’ll present your findings tomorrow morning to him and several members of the senior staff.

You and your team cancel your evening plans and hunker down to pull an all-nighter.

The task sounds almost impossible. Research and prepare a presentation with recommendations for a key client with a take-time-to-blink-and-you’ll-miss-it deadline. But that’s what life is like for business consultants and it’s one reason why this fictional case was used as the challenge for over one hundred UCLA Anderson Class of 2007 MBA and Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) students in the 13th Annual Deloitte Consulting Case Competition. The event is organized by Deloitte’s Campus Recruiter Shaeza McNear, UCLA Anderson’s MBA Student Services team, Susan Corley and Lynn Foxx.  The competition enables students to focus on a broad business problem that requires them to integrate many management disciplines, like supply chain management, marketing and finance, into their analysis and strategic thinking. 

Less than 48 hours after issuing the case, Deloitte Consulting Senior Manager Mike Epstein presented a $5,000 check to the winning team, The Case Wizards.  Team Captain Sree Lakshmi Duggineni accepted the check alongside her team members Martin Burns, Zachary Dworkis, Luciano Grancelli and Simao Vital.

The team credits their presentation skills as a primary reason they won the case competition.  “We won, I think, because we were able to communicate,” Grancelli said. “Most of (the presentations) were well-rounded and most of the recommendations made sense, but the key was the way we were able to communicate with the judges. If you can’t communicate an idea, it will die.” Burns noted that at a key point in their preparations, the team simply “turned the computer off” and discussed how they could best communicate their recommendations to the judges.

The Deloitte Judges were Partners Rob Hills, John Simrose and David Lusk. Also judging were Senior Managers Mike Epstein and Ken Loewen. Rounding out the panel were UCLA Anderson faculty and staff George Abe, David Aboody, Gonzalo Freixes, Gigi Johnson, Bill McKelvey and Jennifer Tabbush.  Finals judge David Lusk concurred that the ability to communicate was key, not only for the Case Wizards, but for all the teams. “The manner in which (the teams) present, understanding who and why people are in the room, everyone knowing their roles, all of this is important when making your case to a client,” Lusk said.

But communication alone was not enough to win the Deloitte Competition. Lusk had high praise for a number of elements of the Case Wizards entry.

“First of all, the diversity of the students was phenomenal, not just geographically or their heritage, they had very complementary backgrounds, not just in branding or marketing, they weren’t cloning a specific type of individual.

“(They) had a multi-tiered strategy, they felt to maximize the value (for the company) you couldn’t do just one thing, one had to take a couple of opportunities to leverage brand and scale. They understood the details and company background and had good research including a straw poll that allowed them to make recommendations about increasing the frequency of consumption in the youth market by targeting different times of day and days of the week that people used Red Bull. They even came up with a new product, Red Bull AM, to drink in the morning.”

Lusk also made it a point to note that the Case Wizards did an excellent job of presenting the financial analysis that backed up their recommendations. “We need to see the numbers,” he reminded the teams. “This isn’t the English department.”

Teamwork is one of the hallmarks of UCLA Anderson. Such quality is essential in a competition like this one. “One major take-away from the experience was the importance of teamwork,” Duggineni noted. “We hadn’t worked together before,” Grancelli added. “But the teamwork was amazing. You really start to see the dynamic of the group. You start to realize that, ‘this guy is good at that, and she is good at this.” The chemistry was good and there was never a stalemate where we were fighting about a particular point.

“The whole experience was bloody brilliant,” Burns said. “Especially that we got to work with people that we didn’t even know before. We got to draw on many of our core subjects, specifically marketing. It was a very well rounded (case), spread over finance and marketing.

“And it was brilliant that we won.”

On behalf of his team, Burns thanks Deloitte for devoting so many members of their staff to the event and for putting up the scholarships won by the Case Wizards.

About UCLA Anderson School of Management
UCLA Anderson School of Management is ranked among the top-tier business schools in the world.  Award-winning faculty renowned for their research and teaching, highly selective admissions, successful alumni and world-class facilities combine to provide an extraordinary learning environment.

The mission of UCLA Anderson School of Management is to be a global leader in management education, research and service. Established in 1935, UCLA Anderson provides management education to more than 1,400 students enrolled in MBA and doctoral programs, and some 2,000 executives and managers enrolled annually in executive education programs. UCLA Anderson alumni number more than 34,000 graduates around the world dedicated to continued networking, professional development and educational activities.

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