SMU Wins Big in Virtual Case Competition

By the SMU Social Media Team

SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business’ curriculum focus towards real-world learning and developing a global mindset has certainly paid off with the latest string of triumphs at the recent IMMA (International Masters in Management Association) Morningstar Global Case Challenge.

The Morningstar Global Case Challenge, a prestigious competition organised by the IMMA in collaboration with Morningstar—a leading financial services firm based in Chicago, US—saw SMU Master of Science in Management (MiM) students Victor Tan and Ashita Gogia clinching first and third places with their respective teams, and the team mentored by Senior Lecturer of Finance, Karen Gan Yoke Wah claiming second.

While the concept of business school case competitions—where participants are tasked to come up with strategies to solve real-world problems within a stipulated duration—is not a new one, the Morningstar Global Case Challenge has put a fresh spin on the competition.

Typical case competitions take place over several hours or a few days, with teams being pitted against one another in the same location, in front of a panel of judges.

In the Morningstar Global Case Challenge, teams consisting of three students are coached by their respective faculty mentor to tackle the challenge. What is different, however, is that teammates and mentors are based in different parts of the world and have to work collaboratively in a virtual environment, over a period of 2 months; after which, three finalist teams will emerge.

With remote working gaining traction as an accepted practice in the employment landscape, and the onset of globalisation affecting almost every industry, it is timely for case competitions to go virtual, simulating the workplace of the future.

At the same time, the Challenge helps students gain a global, business perspective, driving them to apply their management education to real world issues. It is also a great opportunity for faculty members to coach students and interact with like-minded faculty mentors from schools around the world.

When asked how the unique design of the Challenge changes the way students approach the competition, Karen Gan says that the two-month preparation allows students to prepare for some tough questions posed by judges. “The key to excelling in the competition is to have a good grasp on the given topic and develop a deep and concise understanding of what the question is looking for.”

For both Ashita and Victor, one of the biggest learnings gleaned from this year’s challenge topic posed by Morningstar, is how blockchain technology can actually be used in various practical applications—not just in the crypto or tech industries, but in a wider application in the world of business.

As Ashita explains, “Despite the hype around blockchain, is it really a threat to traditional business models? How can companies like Morningstar prepare for this potential disruption? These were some of the questions I was able to address through this challenge.”

The two-month journey from conception to execution had not been an easy one with participants having to work through geographical challenges such as clashing schedules and time difference. However, these challenges propelled them to seek out new ways to collaborate efficiently.

“For me, the most challenging part was working around each other’s schedules given the eight-hour time difference, within a tight deadline,” Ashita says. “We managed to overcome that by dividing responsibilities and having weekly check-ins via video conferences.”

Through the competition, Victor discovered Doodle, a platform that simplifies the process of scheduling meetings with consideration of the respective time zones.

The competition—despite the level of difficulty and challenges it presented, and time and commitment required—was deemed by both faculty mentors and students as a rewarding and meaningful experience.

“I think it is a great way to apply the concepts we learn in our course work,” says Ashita.

“Working on this challenge has exposed me to senior level industry insight and feedback from industry experts. Being able to present in Paris and taking first place after all that hard work was truly rewarding. If you have the opportunity to participate in a similar competition, go for it.”


Find out more about the MiM programme here.