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Networking, Jobs, Business Experience: Why ICEF Students Join Case Competitions

Networking, Jobs, Business Experience: Why ICEF Students Join Case Competitions

The students of ICEF are regular participants and prize-winners in contests that prepare them for their future jobs. These contests take the form of case competitions, allowing students to demonstrate teamwork skills, problem-solving skills, ability to delegate, debate and present. Here’s how case competitions can be beneficial to students.

Alina Krevsun, 3-year student, ICEF

Alina competed in BCG Idea Challenge case competition (November-December 2021) as a member of the 3-year student team together with Zhania Murzalina and Sofia Rasputina.

BCG Idea Challenge is one of the largest case competitions in consulting. It is offered by BCG, one of the three consulting firms constituting the Big Three, and unlike all other case competitions in this field, BCG’s one is socially oriented: The company chooses a social issue and offers the participating teams to solve it. BCG Idea Challenge is a good opportunity to show and level up structural thinking skills, elocution and innovative problem-solving while working on best possible solutions to a business problem. Besides, its winners become preferred candidates for jobs at BCG. 

In 2021 we came up with a new line of work for the Lake Baikal Foundation, which we thought could lead to better protection of the water resources in our challenging climate. My team and I believe that experience is key and can be gained by participating in all kinds of case competitions as where one can learn effective business decision-making. 

Contests like this certainly require one to be a good team player

It is equally important to be able to enjoy the process, and one only can do so if team members respect one another, if they are good listeners and well-disposed. So, make sure to meet your team before the event to get to know its people.

BCG Idea Challenge made us better time managers: its final stage coincided with our examination session. It also made us better strategists – we learned to achieve solutions by involving experts and doing large-scale studies. By sorting out our own teamwork problems (which are unavoidable and the only way to fight them is by staying flexible and committed to a shared goal), we became better team players. We made it to the final stage and were presenting our case before consultants – a great way to get experience with public speaking.

Matvey Chernigovskiy, 3-year student, ICEF

Matvey participated in Tinkoff Case Day (1-15 May 2022), his team won second prize. 

That spring, I thought it would be nice to do an internship and spend the summer getting work experience, but I didn’t know where. I decided to dedicate my time that May to case competitions. They are a great way to learn so many industries and in much detail. Besides, as I heard from many ICEF graduates, winners of case competitions are seen by the employers as having solid hands-on skills alongside theoretical knowledge. 

In addition to case study assignment, the selection round of the Tinkoff Case Day involved solving ten Olympiad-level problems in math – the special thing about this contest. Another surprising thing was how teams were divided into smaller groups at the final stage for the final case study assignment. Ours dealt with application and development of VoiceKit speech recognition technology, and the person who was supervising and evaluating our work throughout the final stage was one of VoiceKit actual developers. 

The core of my team consisted of my school friends, and I also invited Arslan Shakhnazarov who is a third-year student of ICEF. 

While preparing for the Tinkoff Case Day, I contacted Artem Zyryanov, a member of the class of 2020 who won in the McKinsey Business Diving contest with his team of ICEF students, for an onboarding session and advice on how to present a solution in the most effective way. 

It is a good tradition at ICEF that the alumni meet the students to offer professional support

Along with that, we set about exploring Tinkoff’s current product line, recent reports and investor presentations. We read all the reports we could get from the consulting companies in neobanking and FinTech industry, and we talked to some of their experts. Our biggest challenge at the final stage of Tinkoff Case Day was the lack of time, and it did appear challenging to add novelty to our topic. But, since we knew how to divide the tasks among us, we coped well. I wouldn’t underestimate the effect of agitation, though. It did take some effort to overcome it.

The Tinkoff Case Day has proved an excellent opportunity for us to work on a real business problem and work out a solution within a record time. We learned how voice and speech recognition market really works and we talked with someone who works day-to-day to co-create innovation in this industry. The money award came as a nice bonus, but the most rewarding prize came later – about two weeks after the contest we got a letter from Tinkoff HR officers inviting us to do an interview for the position of analyst. After six rounds of the interview three of us ended up as product analysts at Tinkoff. This how our second prize in Tinkoff Case Day turned out a rewarding bonus – some of us had gotten jobs they dreamed of.

Anna Vinnichenko, 1-year student, ICEF

Anna was named absolute winner in the National Entrepreneurial Idea Contest “Captains of Russia” (16 February – 10 April 2022) and won first prize for the best Technology Entrepreneurship project.

I liked The Captains of Russia for its concept. I had long wanted to try myself in the role of an entrepreneur and develop a project idea I could present to people. Winners of this contest were promised RF educational grants and a chance to be noticed by larger investors, so I decided to give it a try.

I wanted my business idea to be up-to-date and abreast of modern achievements. While developing a financial model for it, I was consulting experts at all stages of the contest for the most optimal result. That had been a tremendous experience for me in terms of project development and presenting my idea before the board. The constructive feedback I received had facilitated even more positive outcomes and had greatly expanded my knowledge of entrepreneurship and business management.

The Captains of Russia helped me decide on my career. And because I won my prize before applying for admission and knew exactly where I wanted to be engaged professionally, I was able to choose among the schools that fit best all my criteria. My choice of a university had been a conscious one. I chose a quality education provider that aligns best with my interests.

Zhania Murzalina, 3-year student, ICEF

Zhania competed together with 3-year students Alina Krevsun, Sofia Rasputina and Polina Atovmyan in TECHNO case competition (25 August 2022) held by Technologies of Trust.

The idea to join this case competition arose quite spontaneously: I wanted to learn more about the company after its split from the international network, and I also wanted to hear the feedback on the case solution. But the decisive factor was that the contest used face-to-face mode. It did prove an exciting event. The case took us four hours to solve and we were even able to interview three officers of an imaginary company – such was our task. 

Students should join case competitions for a number of reasons, to meet new people and to grow their professional network

Case competitions allow one to learn the ins and outs of the industry within a short time, improving logical thinking and structural thinking skills. Case competitions, especially those held offline, are an excellent opportunity to meet highly motivated people from different backgrounds. Meeting new industries is especially important for students in their early years of study – that’s exactly what all students need in order to understand where they want to be professionally. And the use of a structured approach, a technique used in case study analysis, will certainly benefit all students while studying and in the workplace.

My team consisted mostly of the people with whom I won prizes from earlier competitions. New members had to have the right competencies. It is important that your team is diversely skilled: we in TECHNO had a slide maker, an analyst and people knowledgeable in finance, which explains why we were able to solve the case quickly and competently. The biggest challenge was to build cooperation with our new members. We didn’t get along smoothly at the start, true, but in the end we found a way round this problem and were even noted for being a close-knit team.  

This had been a very useful experience for me. I was able to immerse into the day-to-day business of an online retailer and thus gained some hints that I can use at work. When pressed for time, you are forced to process background data and make decisions very quickly – another useful skill that helps me out at ICEF, along with analytical approach to handling large amounts of information.

Tansuluu Shermatova, 3-year student, ICEF

Tansuluu competed in the audit case competition held by DRT Moscow’s Young CFO School (August 2022).

Young CFO School is a school for early-career financial officers that teaches financial reporting, auditing, and risk management. As its trainees, we were supervised by people who are true professionals and who shared with us not only theoretical knowledge but also real-life cases.

The case competition used the Young CFO School as its final training stage. I think I had coped well identifying and correcting errors thanks to the practical knowledge of finance that I gained at ICEF.

Our biggest challenge was the time limit. We only had three days and were therefore staying late in DRT office and then met online in the evenings – but eventually we coped well.

For me, the most interesting experience had been the very mode of the training, with brilliant teachers and captivating talks. I am lucky to have met all those people. For the students of ICEF, joining contests like this is a good opportunity to meet companies and their corporate cultures. It is also a chance to demonstrate competencies and win a fast-track offer to do an internship.