One of the items that topped my business school bucket list was “participate in a case competition.” I didn’t have the opportunity to compete in one during undergrad and thought it would be the perfect avenue to apply the many skills that I’m honing at Anderson. Plus it’s a quintessential bschool activity, almost a right of passage. Luckily, Anderson hosts a range of case competitions on campus each year, so students have a lot of interesting challenges from a range of industries to cut their teeth on.
During the fall, some of my classmates came up with the next big thing for Amazon during the HTBA Amazon Case Competition and solved a complex hypothetical growth problem for Smart Things during the 2014 Deloitte National Case Challenge. This winter quarter, my friend and fellow first-year, Dan Abbott, and his teammates took home the gold during the 4th annual Challenges in Energy Case Competition for their win-win solution for EV charging at commercial location. Another friend, Liz Prutting, competed in the Entertainment Case Competition during the annual MEMES Pulse Conference, sponsored by Paramount Pictures. Her team came up with a set of creative recommendations on how to move media consumers up the margin ladder for movie purchases.
I, on the other hand, leapt into the case comp pool by way of the Net Impact Consulting Challenge (NICC), which took place last weekend. While most case competitions are just a few days, the NICC was a fascinating 2.5-week real consulting engagement with a real client. All participating clients were local LA non-profit organizations that signed up with real issues they needed help analyzing. My team of five was paired with a client org, which will remain anonymous, that has a serious volunteer recruitment and retention problem. (They rely on volunteers for 90% of all activities.) As someone who is deeply interested in all things human-capital-management related, this was a great fit for me!
Over the course of the next two and a half weeks, our team conducted extensive secondary research on volunteer trends and best practices in the non-profit sector. This informed our primary research, as we did multiple site visits to interview volunteers and conduct surveys. Ultimately we came up with a detailed plan outlining different recruitment and retention tactics to increase volunteer numbers and keep them engaged longer, and presented our recommendations to a panel of social impact experts. I wish the story ended with "then we won first place!" But it doesn't, because we didn't. We didn't even advance to the finals. But that didn't matter - our client was thrilled with our research, analysis, and recommendations. In a follow-up meeting, they said that they planned to implement most, if not all, of our suggestions. That meant more to our team than any first place prize. Plus, now I think I've found a new organization to volunteer with here in LA!
In other Anderson Case Competition news (for all you bankers out there) - tomorrow marks the kick-off of the Fink Center Stock Pitch Competition 2015. Good luck to the team representing Anderson!
Team Sugar Dumplings: Richard Wang, Britney Sussman, Kirby Ryan, Lucy Prom, and Lindsee Redmond
Follow me on twitter: @brit808