Lauren Black, class of 2019 accounting and information systems double major, writes about the PwC case competition held on Nov. 1, 2017, at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Competing in a case competition remains a popular way to help students prepare for a future in consulting-related fields. PwC hosted a case competition on Nov. 1, at the Riggs Alumni Center that gave students hands-on experience with consulting and a peek into what a career in consulting might look like.
Students were tasked with deciding whether a company should replace its cashiers with automated checkout machines. Each of the 19 teams of freshmen and sophomores representing multiple university departments analyzed the costs and benefits associated with automated machines, provided recommendations for alternative approaches and discussed financials within their presentations. The winning group, Team MJRS, proposed introducing automated machines while also bringing in a few employees to add a specialized experience.
Mario Menendez '20, a Marketing and Information Systems double major, was a member of the winning team. He has previously worked with PwC and has already secured an internship position with the company for next summer. He expressed excitement for this year’s competition.
“Competitions like this allow us to apply concepts outside the classroom and learn experientially,” Menendez said. “Consulting and thinking critically to solve complex business problems is what I want my career to be. As a PwC intern this upcoming summer, [the challenge] gave me a glimpse into the services and type of work I will be involved in during my internship and beyond.”
One of his teammates, Julia Stratford, shared his excitement for the event, and explained how the case competition was a great learning opportunity.
“When Mario told me about the case competition, I knew right away I wanted to participate,” Stratford said. “Not only did it seem like a great experiential learning opportunity, but it’s also a way to learn about a prominent professional services firm. As an underclassman, having the ability to participate in a case competition with a Big Four firm is a special experience.” Stratford is a Finance and Information Systems double major with a minor in French Studies.
Another team member, Management and Organization major Alexander Kristal, said that his all-freshmen team stepped up to the plate.
“As a team of all freshmen, we thought we were at a disadvantage because we lacked some of the more technical skills that you develop as you move through business school, but we did not let that deter us from trying our hardest,” Kristal said. “We divided the work according to our strengths and always discussed the issues together so that we all possessed a full understanding of the case and our solution. It was stressful working under such a tight deadline, but it forced us to stay on task and make every meeting productive.”
Finance major Benyamin Grinberg, summed up his team experience.
“Overall, I think the case was difficult and definitely made us work hours on end, but it was super worthwhile,” Grinberg said. “I've gained a lot of experience from this and hope to use it in the future, not only at Smith but in my future career as well.”
Zeinab Karake, clinical professor with the Smith School’s Department of Decision, Operations and Information Technologies, served as the team’s adviser. She is also the faculty champion for the Information Technology and Business Transformation Fellows (iTBT) program, which will begin accepting applications for the 2017-2018 cohort on Dec. 1.
Smith undergrads are constantly preparing to be competitive applicants in the workforce, and participating in case competitions is one of the more challenging opportunities.
For more information on the undergraduate program, visit: www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad.