NUS MBA 09 January 2018

NUS MBA team win Sydney’s Asia Pacific Challenge 2017

Participating in international business case competitions and leadership conferences is all part of the NUS MBA experience. In the recent Asia Pacific Challenge 2017 organised by the Australian Graduate School of Management in mid-December 2017, our NUS MBA team emerged as champions in what they described as a “whirlwind experience” that they will cherish always.

MBA class of 2019 students, Ms Ankita Verma, Mr Joel Stanislaus Koh and Ms Zhang Dan share their experience in Sydney. They were accompanied by Associate Professor Tan Soo Jiuan, who was their coach.

From left: MBA students Ankita Verma, A/P Tan Soo Jiuan, Zhang Dan and Joel Koh

On our first day at the event, after the administrative formalities, we had the opportunity to meet the other 11 competing schools at the Sydney Harbor cruise, organised by the hosts.

While soaking in the iconic sights of Sydney on the cruise, we had the opportunity to connect with other teams. It was difficult to not feel intimidated by the wealth of knowledge and experience everyone brought to the event. Being able to meet other inspiring MBA candidates and their coaches from other top business schools across Asia Pacific was inspiring as everyone was very open to sharing their experiences and insights.

The competition was exciting and challenging that comprised four rounds. In the first two days teams were split into three pools of four teams each. Each pool would compete amongst themselves – teams in each pool were shuffled after each session, thereby allowing all teams the opportunity to compete against one another. Each round had separate weightages and the top three teams with the highest total scores proceeded to the finals held on Day Three of the event.

For each round, teams were given a business case about an organisation tackling a real business issue and within 2.5 hours, we were expected to formulate strategic solutions that were both feasible and innovative. Given the pressures of time and abundance of information, analysing the data and preparing the presentation was a nerve-wrecking task, but also an excellent learning experience, nonetheless.

Preparing for the competition

Prior to the case competition, we had multiple training sessions with coach A/P Tan Soo Jiuan. Through that, we discovered that teamwork is an extremely important element in such competitions and we were glad that our team had great synergies with each other.

With our practice sessions and ongoing communication with each other, we quickly learnt about each other’s strengths, weaknesses and characteristics. However, there was bound to still be conflicting opinions and approaches when it came to solving cases due to our different backgrounds and experiences.

However the training and practice sessions gave us the chance to debate, challenge and develop our thoughts and ultimately, we were always aligned as a team to solve the cases.

Thanks to the support from the school and the training sessions with A/P Tan, we grew together as a tight-knit team supporting and building on each other’s strengths as well as developed the ability to distill our thoughts very quickly into a well-structured presentation.

It was truly gratifying when we emerged as winners for all four rounds of the competition and eventually emerging as the overall champion especially when we were up against very tough and formidable teams.

Preparing and participating in a case competition is a challenging yet enriching experience – a realistic way to develop teamwork, analytical and decision-making skills. We believe that these out-of-classroom opportunities are truly beneficial in providing a holistic learning experience to students, the benefits of which will continue to serve us even after graduation.

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