Duke MMS Student Blog
Consulting for the Win
A large number of MMS students prepare for consulting recruitment and, accordingly, Fuqua provides a myriad of ways to shed light on those careers. The annual Accenture Case Competition is an opportunity for students to take on the role of consultants, not only by collaborating as a team to thoroughly analyze a real-life business problem but also by presenting an innovative solution to a panel of judges from Accenture.
Twenty teams of four or five MMS students participated in this exercise to develop our problem-solving skills and gain invaluable case experience. With the winning team given the highest consideration for first-round interviews, a dinner with an Accenture executive, and an Accenture coach to provide guidance throughout the recruiting process, we were all motivated to win.
Working on a Real-world Case with a New Team
First and foremost, my past experiences competing in case competitions as an undergraduate student and my time at Fuqua have taught me that being a good team player is crucial. Success in group projects demands a well-rounded, multi-disciplinary team, and the team’s synergy is critical for ensuring that teammates will complement and even amplify each other’s assets. Thus, it was important for me to find MMS students who had varying areas of expertise and were fully committed to the project. Furthermore, ever since my first case competition, I have strived to work with new team members, in novel settings—there is always something to learn from each person. This case competition served as a wonderful chance to reach out beyond the MMS team we were assigned to for classes and build relationships with other classmates.
A tip that I want to share with future MMS students is that it’s key to have at least one team member who is very confident with working on financials. At the end of the day, the cases are based on business problems and so we need to show that the solutions are backed up by solid numbers.
Developing Problem-solving Skills
In the kickoff event, competitors were told that teams would be given one week to create a five-slide PowerPoint presentation that followed Accenture’s issue-based problem-solving methodology tools. The slide deck needed to exhibit three components: defining the problem, solving the problem, and communicating the answer.
I want to emphasize that slide deck skills should not be underrated. In the first round, teams are only given five slides to impress the judges. The more time and effort you place on refining how your slides look, the more likely your deck will stand out. As much as the content is important, if the communication of that content is not up to par, the value of the solution can be lost.
Communicating with a Mentor in the Consulting Field
Once the four finalist teams were announced, each was paired with a current Accenture consultant who provided feedback, offered suggestions, and shared insights about consulting at the company. The advice that our mentor gave us was extremely useful as he was a past contestant of the same annual case competition when he was an MMS student. During our hour-long Skype call, he spoke in detail and it was clear he genuinely wanted to support us as a mentor, not only for this competition but for our recruiting process in the future. This was an extraordinary moment that helped me confirm the Fuqua family is a real network in which we genuinely care for each other and offer help when we can.
Overall, the Accenture Case Competition was a valuable experience that invigorated my interest in pursuing a career in consulting. My teammates and I thoroughly enjoyed working together and were certainly challenged by the unexpected during the business case. The thought process, research, and analysis we had to conduct were all tremendously interesting. Moreover, even though presenting on the Geneen auditorium stage was terrifying at first, it turned out to be a thrilling experience that I will never forget.
Holding the case competition in the summer term serves as a great introduction to the fall consulting recruiting season, and so I strongly recommend prospective MMS students participate and gain a feel for what a career in consulting may entail. Best of luck!