|A team of HKUST MBA students outperformed their peers from the business schools of eight top-ranked institutes including Yale University and University of Chicago, and won the Grand Prize at the Marshall Global Consulting Challenge. The annual business case competition organized by the University of Southern California (USC) is designed to challenge the minds and problem-solving abilities of the best MBA students around the world.
The HKUST team was the only contender from Asia. Their thorough preparation, quality analysis, and innovative ideas impressed the judges, and took home the championship in the competition.
The challenge consisted of four weeks of preparation culminating in a two-day competition at USC in late February. The competing teams were tasked to help the sponsor company, Yahoo! Inc., identify a differentiating media strategy in the fast-moving digital media business. They were required to deliver three separate presentations with analysis and recommendations focusing on industry trends, consulting methodology and the challenge the sponsor faced. Teams were judged by panels consisting of industry experts, consultants, and Yahoo’s leadership team.
The HKUST team comprised five full-time MBA students: Lauren Bonds, Claudia-Catharina Hase, Sashank Lanka, Hiraku Tsuzuki and Shane Xiong. They represent a highly international composition from the US, Germany, India, Japan and Mainland China.
“Our team is highly diverse with teammates from different parts of the world, and also from various work background including consulting, finance, marketing and online business. The combination functioned well and provoked stimulating discussions and new thinking,” one of the HKUST team members Catharina said.
The judges commended the HKUST team for their tremendous efforts in preparing for the competition, with high quality data and solid recommendations. The team received particular praise for their handling of difficult questions with clear, precise answers.
The team said the competition provided an occasion where they could demonstrate their consulting and presentation skills in front of an expert audience in the industry. It was a demanding competition, yet provided a truly rewarding experience and valuable feedback on how to even further refine their skills.
Professor Stephen Nason, Professor of Business Practice and faculty advisor of the team, said, “The remarkable result not only reflects the world-class standard of our students, but also the tremendous effort of the team.”
“The USC Marshall Global Consulting Challenge is one of the most prestigious case competitions in the world. Only top MBA programs are invited to join this high-level strategy consulting competition, and the previous sponsor companies included industry-leading companies like Disney ABC TV Group, Toyota, Intel and BP,” he explained.
International case competitions are one of the key learning experiences that the HKUST MBA Program offers to its students. The program provides faculty support through a professional skill enhancing workshop and ongoing coaching. Students are funded by the Business School to attend contests overseas. This year, a total of 78 students representing 20 teams will be sent out to compete in case competitions around the globe.
Mr Sean Ferguson, Associate Dean (Master’s Programs) and Director of MBA Programs at HKUST Business School, congratulated the team on their outstanding accomplishment. He added, “The HKUST winning team at the Marshall Global Consulting Challenge is a great example of the impact our students have during and after the MBA experience here. Their success is a byproduct of having an internationally oriented curriculum taught by world-class faculty composed of leading scholars and transformative business leaders.”
The HKUST team clinched the overall championship in the competition this year, while Columbia Business School, USC Marshall and McGill University won the Best Industry Presentation, the Best Consulting Presentation and the Best Company Presentation, respectively.
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