One element of the Core that I appreciate is the inclusion of case competitions in the curriculum. These fantastic learning experiences also align with Johnson’s Titletown program to support students in interscholastic case competitions.
Scattered throughout the semester are three intra-Johnson challenges: Leading Teams, S.C. Johnson (marketing) and Citi (integrative – a little bit of almost everything, focusing on critical thinking, strategy and finance). For those unfamiliar with case competitions, they test entrants on their ability to quickly address a business issue. In general, a presentation is required, with additional material such as an executive summary or financial projections sometimes necessary.
The first case got us off to a great start working together as a team. Capping Orientation, this challenge for the Leading Teams class gave groups five hours to figure out how a heavy equipment firm should address an emerging market. The time constraint, combined with the minimal B-school experience we had at that point, made it all about teamwork. While we failed to place, this project gave us a good idea of what to expect from one another and informed our work preferences going forward.
Several weeks later, our marketing skills were tested in a competition sponsored by S.C. Johnson (the family company that my business school shares a namesake with). We came together to draft a digital strategy for a hypothetical client, sharing suggestions with the marketing faculty and earning an Honorable Mention. After the presentations, the class headed to the Statler for a reception with managers and directors from the Racine-based firm.
Finally, the Integrative Case defined the week between the end of classes and finals. Sponsored by Citi, the case tasked core teams to create shareholder value for a Fortune 500 company. The winners took home $3,000, with other cash prizes available to finalists. Of the three, this was most intense, challenging us to think outside the box while dealing with a complex set of facts and requirements and developing a detailed strategy recommendation.
Through these challenges, I learned how to handle time pressure, work with a group and and synthesize complex (and possibly incomplete) information, skills you can’t always learn in a traditional classroom setting. Plus, these experiences helped me get to know my team much better – a group I’m grateful to have tackled the first semester with.