Succeeding in a National Marketing Competition

Guest blogger Annika Buettner

Throughout the summer and fall terms, several case competitions were hosted at Fuqua (e.g. with Accenture — read a previous blog post about it). Yet, I was wondering whether a competition existed that was more specifically tailored toward solving marketing issues. As the MMS Marketing Club President, I was continuously on the lookout for ideas for new events and eventually came across the Babson Marketing Case Competition in Boston. It didn’t take long to form a competitive team to participate in the event. With a wide variety of skills and backgrounds, my team members were: Gayathri Parthasarathy, Carmen Flores, and Marc Andreoli.

On the day of our departure, we left Durham with curiosity, respect for the other teams and a willingness to compromise sleep in order to give it our best. We would be competing with 21 MBA teams from all over the USA (including teams from Berkeley, MIT and Tuck). Knowing that all of them most likely have more work experience than us (MBA: around 5 years, MMS: 0-2 years), we entered the competition determined to prove that we can offset our limited work experience through dedication, team spirit, and having more fun with the topic.

With my teammates Marc Andreoli, Gayathri Parthasarathy, and Carmen Flores at the case competition.

At Babson in Boston

Upon arrival in Boston on a recent Friday afternoon, we immediately started working through the case. After a welcome reception with all teams as well as the executives of the sponsoring company, we continued to brainstorm until late at night. With only 3 hours of sleep, we arrived at Babson College on Saturday morning to receive further information on the final task.

Our challenge was to identify and evaluate growth options that align with the case company’s social mission along with developing the accompanying marketing program and measures to determine its success. Within only 5 hours, our strategy as well as our PowerPoint presentation needed to be finalized before presenting our ideas in front of the judges. Our first presentation went well, but we weren’t sure how to feel about it since we did not hear the presentations of the other teams. In one hour, we would find out which 5 out of the 21 teams would move on to the final round of the competition. Should we continue to work on our strategy and the presentation in the meantime? No, let’s not be too optimistic …

mms case competition
With our winnings!

The next thing we knew, the organizers announced “Team Fuqua” as one of the finalists. We couldn’t believe it! A big hug for each team member and then we rushed to perfect our slides for the final presentation 15 minutes later, in a room of 90 participants, with 10 judges. What a nerve-racking experience.

Later, at the Cocktail Reception and Awards Ceremony it was announced that we won second place, and we received an award check! In addition, our teammate Gayathri was named “Speaker of the Day.” All the recognition was a great honor. Many participants as well as judges praised our presentation skills, team spirit and enthusiasm, which we knew had been strongly influenced by our MMS Business Communication classes. What we’ve learned in the MMS program prepared us well for the competition, and put us on a more level playing field with top MBAs. Despite the hard work, it’s a truly enriching memory to have before graduating from the MMS program! Go Team Fuqua!