By Liz Warren-Pederson
Over 150 undergraduate and graduate students applied this spring to participate in the Deloitte Consulting Case Challenge, a hands-on simulation based on an actual Deloitte project.
In February, a team of Deloitte professionals presented the case study to 35 finalist students, who were then randomly assigned to teams and given a week to analyze the situation and develop a cohesive solution. The case revolved around “Neptune,” a school district with significant data tracking and IT challenges.
The first-place team consisted of undergraduate MIS major David Ware, marketing major Jordan Underhill, and engineering management major Blaine Light, along with MS-MIS student Shruti Jagtap. “It was exciting to be on a team that was motivated and willing to work through these challenges,” Light said.
The second-place team brought together MIS and entrepreneurship junior Taylor Hedberg, business management major Lily Yu, and MS-MIS students Dhaval Gohil and Dilip Rajan. “I love solving problems and helping other people solve their problems,” Hedberg said. “That’s why I’m in the entrepreneurship program and why I am interested in working as a strategic, management, and technical consultant at some point in my career.”
The two teams approached the case with different philosophies. “A lot of technical people make the mistake of explaining their solutions with jargon, industry lingo, and long lists of complicated features,” Hedberg pointed out. “After all, it’s easier to make simple concepts sound hard than it is to make hard concepts easy to understand. By using technology as a tool to better people’s lives and increase the operational effectiveness of the organization, we spoke the language of the stakeholders and made the value to them obvious.”
Said Light of his team’s solution, “We were able to assign a specific dollar value to show that, by implementing the system, Neptune would actually save money over time. We did that by showing that the new system accounted for four percent more students than the old system did, and therefore the federal government would supply four percent more funding to that school district.”
“It was a great experience. I believe students should participate in as many case competitions as possible,” Light said. He has been accepted into the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program next year.
Judges from Deloitte Consulting evaluated the presentations and selected the winning teams on February 11. Each member of the first-place team was awarded a $150 prize.
Hedberg also got an additional boost from the competition: this summer he will intern with Deloitte as part of the Business Technology Analyst Summer Scholar Program this summer in Sacramento.
“The case competition was an invaluable experience,” he said. “It’s a practical application of all of the theoretical knowledge we learn. The real world is ambiguous, and Deloitte’s case competition lets us explore strategic and technological solutions without shirking ambiguity.”