Haas Student Wins Case Challenge in China


Long time no post! Unfortunately it's been a bit crazy with Admissions work, school work (midterms), summer internship search, BPlan, and life in general. But here's a nice post that Khan Yow, our classmate from Singapore, wrote for his experience in the inagural East-West Case Challenge in China. Enjoy!

Headlines are deceiving. Reading that “Khan Yow, MBA 10, Wins Case Challenge in China” on the Haas NewsWire felt as if my teammates’ roles were subsumed by my own efforts. Nonetheless, it definitely stoked my ego so I allowed myself to bask in that glory for a moment… Just ONE moment, that is.


I first read about this case competition in our weekly MBA emails. The format of the competition was very unusual – there was both an inter-school as well as mixed team phase. Schools first competed against each other before all the teams were reassigned into completely new groupings of 8 for the second phase of competition. It was going to be very exciting to not only compete against but also get to know other MBA students from other top schools, including from China, South Korea, and Singapore. Also, as I hail from Singapore, my long-term career interests are to return to Asia. So this competition was very fitting of my interests in applying my understanding of China and Asia.


Our assigned task was to design a viral marketing campaign for Microsoft that utilises the mobile phone to reach 5 million students globally. The purpose of the campaign was to promote Microsoft's Imagine Cup event, an event catering to students from all over the world to propose solutions to address the challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Thus, we had to use the mobile phone as a marketing channel to attract students to take part in the Imagine Cup event. One constraint (personally, constraint was too politically-correct; it was more like a roadblock) was that each team will only have a budget of $10,000 to execute the task.


Our "Yes I Will" campaign is centred on getting students to provide small, everyday solutions to large global issues. The genesis of our positioning was that many students worldwide want to play a part in helping to make the world a better place. Students believe in many different causes, be it saving the rainforests or reducing poverty. While the Imagine Cup provides an excellent opportunity to design solutions to address these big issues, the amount of commitment and expertise required to pursue participation at the Imagine Cup is significantly high. Our team believed that the "Yes I Will" campaign can target the "long tail" of students wanting to make a difference but not having that kind of time availability for the Imagine Cup.


Each student can offer their own small little solutions to everyday problems and post it via our proposed upgrade of the Imagine Cup website as well as our suggested Facebook application, "Yes I Will", via their mobile phones and via the internet browsers on their PCs. Recognising that Facebook only covers a portion of the worldwide student population, we also planned to offer a similar application on other major social networking sites such as those in China like Xiaonei.com, Kaixing001.com, to improve our coverage globally.


Clearly, it wasn’t just an individual effort by me to win that case challenge. As much as I could bask in the personal glory for that moment, it was really our team’s combination of diverse yet innovative perspectives that made the win possible. Team Red was our group name and what a way it was to start the new Chinese Year of the Ox with!


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