“Oh, what have we done!” As December dawned, the realisation of what our team had committed to was finally hitting me. Whilst undertaking final lectures, finalising projects, preparing for exams and thinking ahead to the annual dilemma posed by Christmas presents, we were also preparing for a case competition, trying to find sponsorship and planning our journey to Montreal. In hindsight, it was lunacy!
The John Molson International Case Study Competition is the preeminent MBA case competition and it provides an opportunity for MBA students to benchmark their learning against the best that other global schools have to offer. It is truly global with schools from Australia, Brazil, Israel, US, Canada and Sweden to name but a few.
Thankfully, everything came together prior to the Christmas holidays with Aer Lingus and Molson Coors Ireland seeing our cause as a worthy one and providing the necessary sponsorship. Also, having some seasoned travellers in our midst was a great assistance when plotting the best route to Montreal via Boston and a road trip.
Whilst driving from Boston to Montreal between a polar vortex and the worst snow storms that have hit the North East in a decade, we realised that things were conspiring with us for once (although we were still happy to have chosen the largest vehicle in North America to transport us). This got us in good spirits from the off and provided ample time for some craic and team bonding! Arguably, the most interesting moment came when we passed a man seated on a snow mobile at the side of the road with a rifle resting on his legs… One of those eternally peculiar spectacles!
When we arrived in Montreal, it was straight to business, buying the requisite stationery and attending the opening ceremony where we discovered that we would be competing against Universities from Nanyang, Singapore, Wilfred Laurier, Kent State & Lund. From here it was onwards to the seemingly endless barrage of cases, presentations, questions, and conversing with new acquaintances.
Who would have known that you could learn so much about yourself in a 3 hour period? Time has never flown by as quickly as the time that we spent in the preparation room. Reading, understanding, analysing, synthesising, discussing, agreeing, recommending, debating and implementing a case regarding a strategic proposal for a company should be given more time! However, we were confident in our own ability and ultimately we learnt that as a team, we are rock solid (a point where others noticeably failed). If we were ever going to crack, it would have been when PowerPoint crashed with only 10 minutes of preparation time to go in one of the cases, however the team stepped up to the mark and we performed admirably to complete the task in front of five high level executives acting as judges.
Completing five case studies in four days is unfathomably taxing on both the body and mind. However, it wasn’t all work, as we had ample opportunities to get to know the other competitors, their entourage and the organisers through events as diverse as an ice hockey match, a networking dinner and a fancy dress party, not to mind the specially organised hospitality suite in the hotel! It was a fantastic experience overall getting to know people ranging from students in Kaiserslautern to a coach from Singapore.
With the weather transpiring against us, we had to cut short our last evening in Montreal to make a midnight dash for Burlington, USA ahead of the imminent freezing rain which the resident Canadians advised us would shut down all efforts to travel out of Montreal for a few hours. Thankfully, it all worked out and we arrived safely in Boston in time for Aer Lingus to deliver us safely back to the Emerald Isle.
Video of the UCD Smurfit Team at Molson Case Competition 2014