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MBA Case Competitions Help Grads Boost Employability

From communication skills to working under pressure, here are five ways an MBA case competition prepares you for your post-graduation career

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Wed Jul 14 2021

BusinessBecause

MBA case competitions are a mainstay of the business school experience. These events challenge teams of MBA students to tackle real-world business problems within a strict time limit, and reward successful competitors with recognition and cash prizes. 

They also make excellent training grounds for the skills you’ll need in a post-MBA career. To find out what you’ll get out of an MBA case competition, BusinessBecause caught up with the Nanyang case competition team from Singapore’s Nanyang Business School at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Lyla Wang, Sai Krishnan Sundaram, Muthamma Ganesh Malanda, and Julia-Adrienne Leuchtgens placed third at the John Molson School of Business International Case Competition (ICC) in 2020.

Here are five ways they say their MBA case competition experience made them more employable.  


1. Strategic problem-solving

Training for an MBA case competition is a great way to test and develop your problem-solving skills.

During each case, you and your team will be challenged to create an inventive solution to a business problem, testing the strategy skills fostered by your MBA.

“The case competition is essentially the culmination of everything you’ve learned at business school,” notes Sai. “You need to think of everything you’ve learned—and there are a number of ways to approach a case.”

During the ICC at John Molson, Sai and the team grew their problem-solving skills in a very short space of time. After losing their first round, they were inspired to take a step back and trouble-shoot their performance.

“The initial loss was unexpected, but afterwards we reflected as a team on what we could have done differently—so failure early on made us a stronger team,” Lyla recalls.

“We even developed a bit of a fan base among people who had seen our growth,” says Muthamma with a laugh. “It felt like we were the underdog story.”


2. Working with uncertainty

During a case competition, teams must develop a solution using only the materials provided—with no access to the internet or the outside world. This means learning to work with considerable uncertainty.  

“Everything you recommend has to be based on limited data,” explains Julia. “This changes your perspective. You have to pay attention to every single detail and think on your feet.” 

This attention to detail is an important skill in her current role as business designer at digital innovation consultancy MING Labs, where bringing together information across functions is crucial. 

Having access to limited information also mimics certain real-world business scenarios, Sai notes.

“Being able to capture fine details and respond accordingly is an important ability you take from the competition,” he says.


3. Communication

Communication is a crucial skill for MBA grads today. According to research from the Graduate Management Admission Council, 80% of employers rank interpersonal skills as the most important ability a business school grad can possess. 

For the NBS team, giving presentations in the high-pressure environment of a competition was a steep learning curve. 

When they first began practicing, Julia recalls, they paid little attention to details like pacing and which team member would address each audience question.

“But over time, we developed so many small signals between the team—from where we stood on stage to who spoke when,” she says. 

“Developing that stage hygiene freed our minds to focus on the content of our presentation.”  

Lyla adds that these presentation skills come in handy day-to-day in her post-MBA role as product localization manager with tech giant, Apple. 

“It definitely helped me to communicate and influence others more effectively,” she says.


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4. The ability to thrive under pressure

The high-stakes environment of a case competition also gives you the chance to practice working under pressure. 

Teams have three hours to familiarize themselves with a case, develop a solution, and decide how to present this solution to a panel of judges.

The ability to work well under pressure helped Sai land his post-MBA role of product manager with Workato, an automation integration company in the Saas B2B space.

“The case competition gave me practice working under pressure within strict time limits—and this experience came through during job interviews,” he says.


5. Confidence

Taking part in a case competition can equally support your personal development, Muthamma reflects. 

“For me, the biggest takeaway was confidence,” she says. “Now, I believe in my ability to work closely in a team, structure my thoughts, and be articulate when I present.”

This is vital in her current role in product strategy with crypto trading startup, Zipmex. In this startup environment, Muthamma must communicate across functions, and with key stakeholders, on a daily basis.

Being supported by your team and receiving positive feedback from judges is a great way to give your confidence a boost. And confidence is a crucial attribute for leadership success post-MBA, Muthamma believes, helping you hold your own in discussions with senior leaders and experts in your organization.

For Muthamma, Lyla, Sai, and Julia, taking part in the case competition was a highlight of their MBA journey. 

“It’s a great opportunity and I’d definitely recommend it,” Lyla notes. “If you participate and put in the effort, it can help you grow in more ways than you can imagine.”

Student Reviews

Nanyang Business School

Student

Verified

6/07/2020

Good campus life and extra-curricular activities

This is a great place to learn and interact with more like-minded people. The campus is something that stands out to me. The infrastructure is great and the university is very well-built. There is lots to do on the high campus, from a large number of eating joints to the numerous clubs and sports activities. I also quite like Singapore as a country, as there is so much to do around not very far from campus. The educational facilities are extremely good, there are lots of opportunities to take on research projects and do industrial projects, which I really enjoy. The only thing I dislike about NTU is that the number of international students is really low and I would like to see a larger international intake in the future. Definitely recommend for the amazing educational facilities and on-campus social life.

Student

Verified

12/06/2020

An international campus that provided diverse choices for students

It's a beautiful campus with a high degree of internationality, providing diverse choices for students in terms of research opportunities and career consultation. Also, scholars are knowledgable and very inspiring, and are good at motivating the thinking of students.

Student

Verified

12/06/2020

Great University

In overall, the university has met my expectations with its wonderful lectures and research staff. However, there are some issues with the administrative side, i.e. administration may give you different answers on the same question. Also, the university’s website often provides outdated information and it takes time to get what you need; perhaps there is not enough people for managing it.

Student

Verified

1/06/2020

Good resources

I would recommend. Good resources for research. Knowledgeable professors and instructors. Conducive environment for studying and doing assignments. Helpful staff and faculty. Food options are good. An overall good place to study.

Student

Verified

18/09/2023

On Campus

inefficient communication and lack of transparency

The administrative team at the university is slow to respond and is often inadequate in their responses and solutions. The uni is also unclear and resistant to explain their actions and motivations when carrying out policies or when questioned

Nilah

Verified

13/03/2024

On Campus

Formative experience for success

NTU prioritizes giving students ample time for independent research. The academic schedule consists of 6–7 weeks of study, followed by a week without classes, allowing students to catch up on any material they may have missed. This is succeeded by another 6–7 weeks of study, culminating in a week dedicated to final exam preparation and exams. The curriculum is designed to be student-friendly, minimizing burdens such as excessive assignments, projects, exams, quizzes, and attendance requirements. This approach affords students the freedom to pursue personal interests and self-development. In my experience, each of the four courses I took had a comparable workload, typically comprising 2 assignments, 3 easy labs, 2–3 quizzes (some without), and 1 final exam. In contrast, comparable courses at other universities often entail significantly heavier workloads, including 3 homework assignments, 5 projects, 5–6 pop-up quizzes, mandatory attendance, 2 midterms, and 1 final exam. Moreover, each project typically demands 3–4 days of work. It is hard work, but it pays off.

Lim

Verified

11/04/2024

On Campus

Academic atmosphere

Nanyang Technological University offers a vibrant academic atmosphere that fosters innovation and excellence. The strong emphasis on research and practical learning equips students with real-world skills. Positives include access to state-of-the-art facilities, collaborative projects, and a diverse student body. However, the competitive environment can be intense, leading to high stress levels. NTU's academic atmosphere encourages growth but requires resilience to thrive.

Xu

Verified

11/04/2024

On Campus

Diverse professors

As a student at Nanyang Technological University, I have been extremely impressed with the quality of education I have received. The professors are knowledgeable, approachable, and passionate about their subjects, which makes learning engaging and enjoyable. The teaching styles vary from lecture-based to interactive discussions and group projects, providing a well-rounded learning experience. The use of technology in the classrooms also enhances our understanding of the course material. One of the things I love about NTU is the diversity on campus. Not only are there students from all over the world, but the professors also come from various backgrounds, making the learning environment truly global. English is the main language spoken on campus, which makes it easy for international students to feel at home. In terms of examinations and coursework, the workload can be challenging at times, but the support from professors and classmates makes it manageable. The exams are fair and assess our understanding of the material effectively.

Lee

Verified

11/04/2024

On Campus

Video lectures

As a student at Nanyang Technological University, I am extremely impressed with the transportation options available on campus. The buses and shuttles make it easy to get around the huge campus. The beautifully landscaped garden campus adds a peaceful and scenic vibe to studying. The facilities, from the state-of-the-art labs to the comfortable study spaces, are top-notch. The video lectures are a convenient and effective way to supplement classroom learning.

Jain

Verified

11/04/2024

On Campus

Focus on science

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) excels in its focus on engineering and science degrees. The curriculum is robust, integrating theoretical knowledge with practical applications. Professors are industry experts, providing invaluable insights. State-of-the-art facilities enhance learning experiences. Opportunities for research and internships abound, fostering innovation and professional growth. NTU's emphasis on cutting-edge technology prepares students for real-world challenges. NTU's commitment to engineering and science education is unparalleled, shaping tomorrow's leaders in these fields.

Haidar

Verified

10/04/2024

Blended

great canteens

While at Nanyang Technological University, I can confidently say that the quality of education here is excellent. The professors are knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects, and the curriculum is challenging yet rewarding. The campus itself is green and natural, providing a peaceful and inspiring environment for learning. The canteens offer a wide variety of delicious and affordable food options, catering to different dietary preferences. From local delights to international cuisines, there is something for everyone. The student housing facilities are also well-maintained and comfortable, providing a home away from home for students. NTU's reputation as a top-ranked university is well-deserved, with cutting-edge research and a strong emphasis on innovation.

Naili

Verified

10/04/2024

On Campus

high quality education

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is a top-notch educational institution that offers a wide range of programs and opportunities for students. The campus is well-equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, and the faculty members are highly experienced and knowledgeable in their fields. As a student at NTU, I have had a positive experience so far. The university provides a conducive learning environment and encourages students to think critically and creatively. The campus is vibrant and diverse, with a strong sense of community among students and staff. I would definitely recommend NTU to prospective students looking for a high-quality education in a supportive and stimulating environment. The opportunities for research, internships, and extracurricular activities are plentiful, and the university is committed to providing a well-rounded education that prepares students for future success.

Tan

Verified

11/04/2024

On Campus

Student experience

As a student at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the experience is vibrant and enriching. Surrounded by lush greenery, the campus offers a serene environment for studying and relaxation. While parties and nightlife options are available, the focus leans more towards academic pursuits. The campus buzzes with activities, clubs, and events, catering to diverse interests. However, the tuition cost is competitive, offering value for the exceptional education and resources provided. I recommend my university

Ilyanajwa

Verified

11/04/2024

On Campus

High quality of life

As a student at Nanyang Technological University, I'm thoroughly impressed with the quality of education. The faculty is highly knowledgeable and supportive, fostering an engaging learning environment. Tuition fees are reasonable for the value provided. The campus food options are diverse and delicious, catering to various dietary preferences. The transport system is efficient, with easy access to public transportation. NTU offers a high quality of life, combining academic excellence with a vibrant campus culture.

Shi

Verified

12/04/2024

On Campus

good value for money

At Nanyang Technological University, I find the tuition fees reasonable considering the quality of education and resources provided. The university offers diverse programs, experienced faculty, modern facilities, and opportunities for research and internships. While tuition costs are substantial, the value for money is evident in the comprehensive learning experience and the potential for career advancement. NTU delivers on its promise of excellence, making it a worthwhile investment in one's future.

Yu

Verified

7/05/2024

On Campus

Educational experience

I am a student at Nanyang Technological University and I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of my program. The lectures are engaging, delivered by knowledgeable professors who make complex concepts easy to understand. The classroom setup is modern and conducive to learning, with interactive technology enhancing the educational experience. Exams are challenging yet fair, testing our understanding and critical thinking skills effectively. In my leisure time, I appreciate the vibrant campus life, with a variety of clubs, events, and facilities to explore, fostering a well-rounded university experience.