University of Southern California

The Other World Cup
September 17, 2010 • by Seiyonne Suriyakumar

Dateline: February 2010, Auckland, New Zealand.
The Event: The Champions Trophy Competition.
The Team: Your USC Marshall School of Business Case Competition Squad.

Think of it as the Global Tournament of Champions. To be invited to compete here, your school must have won an international case competition during the year. For our USC Marshall team, that was no problem. We made the finals in four international competitions and twice took home first place.

Now we were pitted against the best teams in the world, in a grueling format. We would take on three cases in three days, with just five hours to prepare for a presentation that usually takes 24. But let me back up and tell you about case competitions.

The best business schools in the world compete against each other each year in various case competitions. Each team is given a real-world business problem to examine. For instance, Coca-Cola wants to expand their market in China. You have 24 hours to come up with a business plan that examines all aspects of this question. What province is best targeted? How do you get into that province? What products should be launched? There are dozens of questions like these to explore. Case competitions challenge students to dig to the third and fourth levels of analysis that most business students don't explore. After 24 hours, each team presents its plan to a jury comprised of executives from the company, high level consultants, and experts in the field. They judge each team's presentation and award winners.

The Champions Trophy at the University of Auckland is much like basketball's March Madness. Each team starts in a bracket and takes on three cases in three days. The bracket winners meet in the championship round. I'm proud to say USC Marshall won its bracket and competed for the championship. We had never placed in this competition before, and at the end of the day we took home the bronze. While I wish we had won gold, without a doubt the case competition team produced winners. We had ten seniors on the team. Two went on to prestigious graduate schools, two got their dream jobs with entrepreneurs, three got jobs in investment banking and the other three got consulting jobs at elite companies. I was fortunate enough to start my job with Deloitte this past August.

From time to time Marshall will keep you informed about this year's case competition squad. Think of it as tracking the USC championship team you didn't know about. And I hope you'll join me in supporting the school that makes it all possible: USC Marshall School of Business.

Fight On!
BS '10
Seiyonne Suriyakumar