It’s been a grueling 30, nearly sleepless, hours spent with 4 other Haasies in a tiny, windowless room in the Twin Cities. Why put ourselves through such insanity, you ask? For glory, for school, for an intense caffeine high? Yeah, pretty much all three.
I’m sitting in the Phoenix airport now with the rest of my team, returning from the Elite 8, marketing / brand management case competition. This year was the 10th anniversary of the competition, where eight schools (Haas, Anderson, Kellogg, Wharton, Kelley, Fuqua, Ross and Carlson) are hosted by the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. The competition is sponsored by big names like General Mills, 3M, Land o’ Lakes as well as many other companies. The teams are given a case question and are given 30 hours to prepare a presentation to a judging panel. Grand prize? $10,000 plus bragging rights.
Our team this year was all women, all first years – so we were a bit nervous (Alicia Chen, Anne-Elise Fettig, Jessica Huard, Vannie Shu, and me). While we were united in our passion for marketing, we had varying levels of experience with marketing. Plus, we were only 2 weeks into our core marketing course with Rashi Glazer and we were going up against teams with 2nd years!
Our case this year turned out to be in the B2B (business-to-business) space, which threw us for a loop, but also leveled the playing field. Most teams come in with deep consumer knowledge and the B2B spin in a convoluted industry made life a little more complicated for everyone. We rolled up sleeves and got to work.
30 hours later, after many Starbuck’s runs, Twizzler sticks, bags of chips and slide revision after slide revision, we had our deck! Jessica and I would present our marketing plan during the 30-min time slot before a panel of 8 judges. We were on deck for a 9AM presentation, the second of the day, which meant that we would have a small audience since the other teams would not be allowed to watch until after they had presented.
9AM rolled around and we rocked the presentation. It felt great to be up there, sharing our ideas with the judges. They asked some tough questions at the end, so we walked away unsure of what they really thought. Our team stuck around to watch a couple of our competitors, but we were exhausted. 10 hours of sleep over two nights meant we were running on fumes. We went back to the hotel to rest up.
Finally, the moment of truth came at the evening reception. And the winner is…Berkeley Haas! We were shocked!
Our class support was incredible – so many messages of support and congratulations! We’re proud to bring home first and continue to bring marketing to the forefront of our program. We love you Haas!