Strong team in the semifinals of the international case competition
As only the second team in the history of Lund University School of Economics and Management, our great team this year made it to the semi-finals and finished sixth place in competition with 30 other skilled teams of this year's John Molson MBA International Case Competition – the largest case competition of its kind.
What happens when four students, unexperienced in case solving, come together with their teacher and coach and in a very short time get an intense training with the goal to win the largest case competition in the world of its kind?
The annual international case competition of John Molson was held for the 40th time, 2-8 January. LUSEM has sent teams to Montreal, where the competition usually is held, for about ten years. The 2022 edition of the Molson was digital which brought some new challenges. Regardless of challenges and fierce competition our skilled and well-trained team did exceptionally well and managed in this tough competition to end up in the top 6 league. Summing up the stressful first days of the new year four happy students and one just as happy coach could state that they probably are pretty good at case solving.
How do you prepare for this kind of competition? What are the toughest challenges? How can case solving help you in a future career? And why is Mats Urde such a good coach? Meet and get the answers from Lum and Jakob from the LUSEM team!
The participating students in Molson are very well trained and often start their training in the teams a year before the competition is on and therefore know each other well. The four students in our LUSEM team hadn’t been able to gather or work with cases together until only three weeks before the Molson competition. A couple of them hadn’t even met before.
How did you manage to become a cohesive and sync team in such a short time?
“We became a full team of four very close to the competition and at mid-December I solved my first case ever when we did some training in Mölle. Luckily enough I already knew Sebastian and Dominykas, but I had never met Jakob. On the other hand Jakob also knew Sebastian and Dominykas so it was me and Jakob that had to get to know each other. Fortunately, that was super easy. The team worked very well and it was always clear who was responsible of what. We trusted each other and there was a harmony in the group,“ Lum says.
The training before the case competition is a vital part of the process and crucial to stand a chance in the competition. Mats has a solid experience of course and has brought teams from LUSEM to the Molson for almost 20 years now but since the teams have new members the coaching has to be done from scratch every year.
How did the training and coaching by Mats help you to become better case solvers?
“It was a great idea to leave for Mölle for two days, isolate ourselves and just concentrate on case solving. Everything else disappeared and we became very focused. Really intense, but it paid off! It was quite an experience and such a good opportunity to discuss with Mats and the team, get feedback and use that during the next case and learn how to present and work as a team. Ask oneself what I am good at and what I am good at within the team,“ Jakob says.
“We had very little time so we had to be effective. We got cases to solve one after the other, we worked together but we also got homework when we had to find out what kind of framework that was useful for each case. We created our own backpack full of framework theories with different tools to pick up whenever a new case. If we, for example, got a case related to the marketing field, we knew what to choose. We also got several cases to solve within the team and Mats managed to get people from his network to act as judges at different occasions which helped a lot. To meet and practice with different judges is very rewarding. We got feedback from Mats all along when he told us our strengths and weaknesses,“ Lum explains.
“We also got connected to the network of former Molson competitors from LUSEM which was great. They gave us really valuable advice. All this then helped us win four cases in a row!“
A couple of weeks before the competition the team spent two days with their coach Mats Urde in Mölle for training and preparation. From the left: Dominykas Vidžiūnas, Lum Rexha, Jakob Hultström Palerius and Sebastian van Dijkman.
The Molson competition was well arranged according to the students. The communication, coordination and the competition itself. Except for the intense days of case solving, there was also time for networking and some social interaction. Jakob and Lum were impressed by the other teams, the level of the cases and the judges. Especially the live case presented by Cirque du Soleil was something to remember. The famous entertainment company asked how they could perform and act digitally. The LUSEM team presented a solution about not trying to transform the circus show into a digital equivalent, but transform all that goes on around it instead. Mats especially highlights this as a good presentation.
What was the toughest challenge during the competition?
“Lack of time!“ Lum says.
“That the challenges had such a wide spectrum,“ Jakob says.
“That the competition was digital was of course a challenge in itself even if the technical part worked out very well. Then the cases gave us all kinds of challenges with different problems that we were supposed to solve related to issues like logistics/last mile delivery, finance, sustainability. Every morning we wondered what could come and what models we were going to use...“.
The digital broadcast was done from LUSEM where the team had a room during the competition with a technical setup suitable for Zoom.
How can case solving help you in a future career?
“The cases is one part that we learn a lot from, both from the very cases but also from all the questions we get. The questions are on a really broad scale. The other part is that we get to train presentation techniques and it is possible to compare the case solving situation with, for example, a sales situation. With this new knowledge about companies, resources, understanding different processes and so on will definitely help me in my future career,“ Jakob says.
“Reading and working with all these cases gave me new skills for the future. To try to understand the situation, what the challenges at the companies are, and so on. It doesn't matter in what direction I will go in my future career, there will always be problems and challenges and to learn how to quickly understand, approach and solve a problem is a really good lesson to bring with you,“ Lum explains.
Long case tradition at LUSEM
LUSEM has a long and well-known case based research tradition and the School has also a long time record with case teaching. Several teachers have over the years brought cases into their teaching and spread the case methodology among both colleagues and students. Our School could also proudly announce in February 2021 that Mats Urde had been appointed Outstanding Case Teacher of 2021 by an international jury with judges from Harvard University, Bocconi University and Ivey Business School. Ulf Ramberg and Ola Mattisson are two other teachers close connected to LUSEM's case tradition. Mats, Ulf and Ola constitute LUSEM Case Academy.
“The School has a reputation of a strong case school but our case culture is still in the making, in progress and developing. Working even more with case is a strategic goal for the management at the School. For example, we would like to develop a tradition to write and publish cases, which we don't have today. We work a lot with case based research though and the work with case teaching is being established. One example is a fully case based course at the MSc in Marketing since eight years back,“ Mats Urde says.