Participating in Case Competition Brings Back Memories

I recently had the opportunity to return to Fuqua for the first time since I graduated in May. It was great to be back in Durham and reconnect with the Fuqua community, both new and old! The trip wasn’t just social though, I came back to help facilitate the Accenture Case Challenge. This case challenge has become a tradition in Duke and Accenture’s long-standing relationship. I felt very fortunate to participate this year, as a representative of Accenture, where I currently work as a business analyst.

Taking notes during the case competition.

Beyond coming down to see the case competition, I had the opportunity to participate in actually writing it from beginning to end. This was an especially wonderful opportunity for me, because as a student, I did not participate in the competition. With my academic and extracurricular commitments (to The Black Student Association and the blog), I didn’t feel that I’d be able to dedicate the necessary attention to the case.

This year, I chose to support the challenge because it’s a great way for MMS students to gain first-hand experience with the types of clients and work that Accenture (and consultants in general) do. The client involved in this year’s competition was a Durham-based non-profit, ChangeEducate, founded by Duke University alumni. The organization increases awareness about poverty to motivate students to make meaningful changes to the situation, particularly within the realm of social entrepreneurship. Five MMS teams participated in the final round of the competition, presenting a comprehensive launch strategy for a new product from ChangeEducate.

The challenge was very rigorous. Students were treated like real consultants and their presentations judged accordingly. I was thoroughly impressed with the breadth and depth of the students’ recommendations, especially since some of them had no prior consulting experience, like Lily Shabani, who is also a student blogger. Check out her post about her experience in the competition!

Sitting in the Kirby Reading Room, I couldn’t help but reminisce as I watched this year’s MMS students overcome their nerves and present their strategies — watching them was like seeing a kind of re-run of my past. Looking back, I couldn’t help but reflect on the knowledge and skills that I gained in one year at Fuqua, which allowed me to successfully enter the consulting industry. I hope that this year’s (and future) students take full advantage of the opportunities available to them, like case competitions, because it’s a fantastic way to gain hands-on experience which will set them apart during their job search, and will be beneficial once they land a job.

Congratulations to the winners of the case competition — Omar El-Sayed, Andrew Hobbs and Mark Prizov! (See some photos on Facebook.) As the winning team, each of these students was awarded a first-round interview with Accenture, and I wish them luck in their interview process!

As an alumna, I’d love to return to Fuqua again at some point in the near future, and I look forward to engaging with the MMS program and the school in any way that I can. Go Duke!