Imagine a University bringing 4-5 people together from their MBA program to form a team that can crack a 20 page case and prepare a presentation on acetates within 3 hours. Now imagine 36 of these teams coming together and competing with one another on the world stage. That is what the John Molson Case Competition was all about and I had the privilege of representing my university (McMaster University).
This was the first time I was meeting young individuals from so many different nationalities(I met oldies before) and you can only imagine that their range of ideas was simply a breath of fresh air-more like a tornado of fresh air. Egos were simmered down to just the right state- solid enough to hold on to the group identity, but fluid enough to blend with others. I was lost in the various personalities I met. Few observations that come to mind:
One of the coolest thing was that most of the teams that represented a ‘country’ consisted of at least one or more member of a different nationality. You could find a German in a New Zealand Team or a Romanian in a Canadian team.
“Haha, you’re smart” I said when I heard a German gentleman talk about how he is fond of the mustard seeds popping in preparation of ‘dal’. He said many interesting things like how he disliked the idea of a treadmill-(indoor workouts) and his various observations of other teams.
“You’re smart too” he responded, “that’s why we’re both on the 20th floor, in Fairmont Queen Elizabeth with walls that are covered with rose-petals, with drinks in our hands while we look out the beautifully lit skyline of Montreal.”
Smooth talker for sure, I thought and in that one moment, I suddenly realized that I was hanging out with a group of highly ambitious and highly accomplished people.
“How do you think your team did”? I asked in response to a competition between his team and my team to which he responded very genuinely. He was very laid back but had very interesting opinions of people and things. He really seemed to be living the “dolce far niente” attitude. His team was a group of four young gentlemen who were dressed up all the same during their presentations but when I had the privilege of talking to them individually, they all revealed a very personable personality. One of them specifically told me that when you are presenting in front of judges, it is no use to present without having fun-the whole idea is to ‘put on a show’-a show that you can laugh off later on. I couldn’t agree more. Moreover, I was simply amused that they competed in a foreign language and held such a strong presence in the competition. I’ve seen national pride before, but this German team took it to another level-there was not a drop of arrogance–it was just beautiful group pride. Someone once said “don’t walk like you rule the world, walk like you don’t care who rules the world” and that is exactly what they were doing. David Zitzlsperger- you inspired me.
Typically when teams were competing, the participants watched their competitor’s presentation. This was not the case for the New Zealanders-they were going to present in their style, no matter what the other teams did. They epitomized confidence.
“[Big company name]-what’s in working for those big companies? Its just helping a successful company make more money.” : One of the Portuguese Team Member said this to me when we were talking about where we aspired to work in the future. He wants to take money where it didn’t exist. Nice.
Schools with top brand names tend to not compete in this competition because when they lose the competition, it damages their ‘reputation’ and the strength of their brand name. That is why I commend all the schools that participate because it offers such an incredible experience for the students.
After meeting with so many MBAs from across the world, I feel the world is a smaller place. Not only do I realize the power I have to change the world, but I am more likely to take action due to a broader network. Values resonate so strongly between so many MBA students–it is such a strong army of students!
What inspires me and only inspires me is ‘connecting’ with people. After all, it is only another human’s support that can help you overcome a perceived obstacle.