From Bergen to some of Europe's best case competitions
Some of my friends on Facebook have been asking what I have been doing over the last month, wondering whether I was travelling for leisure or for study. The answer is: a mix of the two!
About Sebastiano Pescarolo
Despite coming from a little town close to Venice (which you can see on my pic), I have early started to feel a citizen of the world. Eager to know new cultures, I have been travelling since I was a child, ending up on exchange in Moscow, Russia during my bachelor. After 2 years in the financial industry in Milan, Italy I felt the need to further my education while experiencing something different. Thanks to my friends’ suggestions, I came to NHH, where I am pursuing the M.Sc. in Finance and CEMS Master in International Management, which will take me to Hong Kong on my last semester. As Deputy Leader and Treasurer of the MEBA Council I oversee the financial side of MEBA operations as well as those of TEDxBergen.
Written by: Sebastiano
Taking case-based courses this semester brought, along with some very busy weeks in February and March, a few weeks off in April. Since free time is enjoyable as long as you find something interesting to do, I decided to apply, and eventually make it, to some of the case competitions going on in Europe during that period. For those of you not familiar with this term, a case competition is an event in which participants strive to develop the best solution to a business-related case study within an allocated timeframe, typically with teams of two or more individuals pitted against each other in a head-to-head or broader relative ranking.
In this post I am going to tell you about my experience at St. Gallen and HEC business games. In my next post I will talk about the one week-long Aarhus Case Competition, where I went with my NHH fellows Gabriel and Izabela.
The St. Gallen case competition took place at the end of March, right after Easter break and was a great occasion to visit Switzerland for the first time. The train ride from Milan to Zurich allowed me to enjoy the nice landscape and to notice how similar Switzerland and Norway are. Even St. Gallen University look quite similar to NHH in terms of design, position and involvement of its students in the campus life. The competition was a 2,5 days brilliantly organized student-run event with different cases by companies such as BMW, Zurich, Nespresso, Swarovski and BDO. Students participated in couples and were paired with a different couple in each case. Since I met my partner for the first time there, I was working with people I didn’t know from before and it proved to be challenging, but also stimulating.
A good match with a couple of Italian guys made us achieve the 2nd place in the Swarovski challenge with our new concept of wish-list. I am very grateful I had the opportunity to take part in the L’Oreal Brandstorm here at NHH since it provided me with a good preparation for the competition. St. Gallen was my first case competition and I am a finance guy, thus solving CSR, employer branding and marketing cases has been challenging, yet very educational. I really enjoyed my stay at St. Gallen and the opportunity to interact with students from other universities and company representatives from Swiss firms, some of whom even joined us at the closing party.
I met some of these new friends again at HEC, where I participated in the competition with my NHH fellow Gabriel. We spent 2 days at the HEC campus, in the countryside of Paris. Before going there, we had a week to solve a case for Gameloft on how to monetize more on their games. Very interesting case that made me think for the first time about the economics behind videogames, though discovering nice videogames before the exam period is not really helpful. The funny part is that Gabriel and I found out about this challenge while exploring the beautiful nature of Iceland, not exactly the best place for solving a case. Sidenote: Bergen is the closest European city to Iceland with low-cost direct flights to Reykjavik, and it is definitely worth the price.
Cases at HEC were about the digitalization of a law firm called Baker&McKenzie and sustainability of African activities of Boygues Construction. Google was there and had a workshop about Design Thinking and our task was to use this as a guide when trying to come up with an innovative solution for time spent at the airport. Design Thinking is an innovative way of developing new products and services, starting with human experiences. We were lucky enough to have a globetrotter in our group – Gabriel, who traveled all the way from Rio to Bergen to study at NHH. Design Thinking is a method that has proved to be very effective and interesting. I was therefore happy to find out that Design Thinking is going to be the subject of NHH’s CEMS Block Seminar week in Voss next semester. I am sure it’s going to be great!
HEC was a great occasion to make new friends and to see some of the students I met in St. Gallen and, previously, at WHU Campus of Finance (another highly recommended event). We had great networking evenings in some of the nicest clubs in Paris. Most importantly, we got to visit our fellow from NHH and MEBA, Dominique, who has spent the last year at HEC for her Double Degree.
We had Sunday off and celebrated it the Parisian way drinking Rosé wine in the company of some Brazilian friends of Gabriel, a very nice way to end this traveling period before getting back to the books…exams are approaching and the good times are over!