Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bad-luck Baylor Competition

Cursed from the start. It felt like we were cursed from the start. On Monday before the competition, I totaled my car. My face was bruised and a little worse for wear. However, I had been working with Dr. Andrea Scott preparing for this competition for a few weeks and was not going to let something like this stand in my way. I packed my bags.

At the airport, I received a distressing phone call. Matty Sujatha, one of my teammates, was supposed to be on the morning flight but had missed it due to three hours of traffic. As Brett Jamison and I sat pondering how this would affect us, we boarded our plane. Luckily, in Houston where we switched planes, we found out she had actually snuck onto our flight just before the doors closed. Disaster averted.

Or so we thought. As Brett went to grab his carry-on that had been stowed in first class, he realized someone had mistaken his generic black bag for their own. He called the guy’s number, rushed through the airport to meet him, changed terminals and went back through security just in time to make the plane to Waco.

Now three of us had been cursed. When we arrived in Waco, we had been prepping on the plane for the competition and hoping nothing else would go wrong, but in my gut, I knew this wasn’t the last of it. We still had one team member who was unscathed.

After a little team pow-wow at the hotel, and realizing we could actually use powerpoint, our own computers, and the internet for the competition, we went to bed relieved and a little nervous. Thursday morning, Kamika Dillard, our fourth member, had an upset stomach brought on by food poisoning. It had officially come full circle.

Despite all of these set backs, we received our case and got to work. The most surprising part about this case was its structure. It was a 4-page case largely describing the situation and allowing us to make our own assumptions. The quantitative data was thin and the company information we were able to ascertain was limited as it was a 2010 start-up company.

However, what was most challenging in this process was working together and figuring out each other’s working styles. We each had very distinct, somewhat competing, styles. It was 24 hours working together on this project, and we evolved throughout to learn how each person functioned best. It was trying at times, especially because I had not worked with the other three before, as I was the only first year student.

That being said, we figured out our strengths and each worked on our parts of the presentation. The following day, Friday, we were going to present twice. We stumbled upon another set-back. As we did a quick run through in the hotel room, and thought the shuttle to campus would leave at 8:15, we missed the shuttle by 4 minutes. The last team to get to campus, we rushed carrying all our luggage through campus, and a little worse for wear, arrived.

We went second in the first round, having some time to re-compose ourselves. The first presentation went surprisingly well. We were all confident afterward, and felt we had successfully addressed all the judges questions. As an ethics case, we included an ethical framework from which to evaluate our decisions and recommendation. This definitely set us apart from the competition, something that we had been trained to include thanks to our coach.

At lunch, we learned that we had moved on to the final, money round. This was a different set of judges and we were presenting to an open audience. Ultimately, we felt good after this round as well, except for an unfortunate diverted question & answer session where the judges got stuck on something we hadn’t really discussed.
Ultimately, we won third place.

Some of the takeaways:
- Sometimes it doesn’t matter how bad you think you deserve it (especially because of bad luck), you must manage your expectations and do the best you can and be proud in that.
- Don’t propose ideas that you haven’t fully thought out. Sometimes the most innovative surface ideas can bog down an otherwise healthy recommendation if you aren’t careful.
- Take time to discuss your working styles prior to getting in the room. Be honest and open in the way you like to work. It will help to get through that process in advance.
- Be kind to each other. This is something Dr. Scott told us in advance and probably is one of the most important things we achieved.
- Don’t take anything for granted. They give you a judging criteria because that is what THEY are looking for. Be more cognizant of that as you work through your ideas and presentation.

If you are interested in seeing more from the Baylor Case Competition, videos and pictures will be posted soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment