Two weeks ago, I embarked on one of ‘those’ journeys. You know the ones. The trips where you learn unimaginable things, and leave with tears in your eyes as you part from the new friends you now call family. It’s corny, but it’s true – this one happened to be the University of Auckland’s Champions Trophy Case Competition.
However, case competitions are a far cry from the humble overseas school trip or the culture-seeking exchange journey. Teams of four from universities all over the world come together to consult for a range of businesses and companies. The winners of each cutthroat division then advance to the finals, with a wild card round thrown into the mix for this particular comp.
After consulting for an IT healthcare company, a local tourism app, a passionate NFP, and Uber, I have an appreciation for malleable ‘big ideas’ and strategies that can be implemented in companies of any size. But of course, consulting for Uber seriously took the cake here. It was so freaking cool.
Teams were given four hours in the case room to develop a strategy, and turn it into a 10-minute presentation. No Internet access was permitted, and teams were only allowed to bring in a template PowerPoint ‘deck’ and simple icons/images. 10 minutes of question and answer time was also conducted after each presentation, much to my personal dismay. This was my first competition, and 10 minutes of grilling from esteemed judges (think McKinsey & Company, company representatives, and the previous CEO of Ernst and Young) seemed like an absolute nightmare. However, by the fourth case of the competition, those 10 long minutes seemed a little more bearable.
But aside from the shiny suits and killer heels (quite literally, my heels could’ve doubled as emergency vampire stakes), Auckland was a stunning backdrop for a variety of social events. Barefoot bowls, bungee jumping, and an Amazing Race were a few of the activities the wonderful university team had organised for us.
(However, I have something to confess. I’m a total chicken. Thus, bungee was a no-no and jet boating was a yes-yes. Which proved to be a smart choice due to the endless humidity that we tried to get away from in Brisbane. ‘Tried’ being the operative word here.)
A major highlight of the week was beach day – which happened to land on January 26th. Australia Day. Armed with dollar store flags and novelty glasses, Australian pride stormed down Auckland’s beaches. The Kiwis weren’t overly fond, but we totally loved it (besides the nagging hangovers from the previous evening). We even got some Americans in on the business, and we had ourselves an Aus Day gang of epic proportions. The day was topped of with a ripper of a barbecue, and we educated the other teams on ‘busting a plugger’. AKA the day was a complete success, turning Auckland into our own personal Australian themed playground.
Naturally, saying goodbye to the ‘Champs 2016’ family was tough. Luckily, Skype is a thing, along with Google Plus’ similar offering. However, Facebook Video Chat is the medium of choice to continue the conversation. And hopefully more competitions in the future…
If you ever have the opportunity to try out for a case competition at your university, I implore you to take it. Not to turn this into recruitment propaganda, but seriously. It’s the best decision I’ve made at university so far. After learning so much in just six months, I can’t wait to ride out the rest of my time with the amazing QUT team and advisors who I now call some of my greatest friends. In the wise words of Fall Out Boy, thanks for the memories, squad (and the bangers).