It is crucial to be ahead of the curve when you are an industry leader. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a global powerhouse with a significant footprint in the assurance, advisory, and tax practice professional services, thinks no differently. For the first time in Foster’s history, a student-driven functional area club, the Foster Consulting Society, partnered with PwC to bring their Fiercest Competitor Case Competition to Paccar Hall at the Foster School of Business.
What is the Fiercest Competitor Case Competition?
PwC originally developed the Fiercest Competitor strategic workshop for its clients to help them simulate disruptive scenarios that they may face in the future. However, in this case, PwC re-engineered the workshop in the form of a case competition. The competition, adapted for MBA candidates aspiring to chart a career in consulting, challenged them to develop a potential strategy that PwC’s fiercest competitor could come up with, contested PwC’s status quo as market leaders, and provide solutions to PwC on how to tackle these challenges.
As part of this initiative, PwC looked to leverage its long-standing relationship with Foster in Seattle. PwC has regularly looked to Foster to get high-quality MBA talent for its advisory services.
The case competition was developed to showcase to the participating MBA candidates what it means to be a consultant at PwC. The competition also aimed to have the MBA candidates develop leadership & team-building skills and offered the opportunity to present to senior leadership at PwC who were judging the contest.
Kicking off the Consulting Case Competition
5 Teams consisting of full-time MBA candidates from Foster’s Class of 2021 were selected for the competition and were present bright and early on Friday, November 8, 2019. Ruchi Singh (MBA ’20), and Morgan Friedman (MBA ’20) kicked off the competition with a welcome address. A key aspect of the competition was the teams having current PwC consultants as mentors, including Foster alumni, Nick Oliver (MBA ’19), Asal Mirsalimi (MBA ’19), and Ryan Kelley (MBA’ 18). Their colleagues at PwC, Akshay Phadke, and Jayant Gokhale also graciously volunteered as mentors to guide teams.
Brainstorming and presenting ideas to the panel
The teams had an hour and a half to refine their thoughts on potential challenges that PwC could face in the future in its core focus areas develop a -level solution framework working along with their mentors. The teams came back to present their ideas in a short 5-minute pitch to the judges. The ideas ranged from building deeper relationships with technology firms to developing insights by leveraging AI and commoditizing it. Teams were creative in their presentation techniques as well, with one group choosing to act out a potential client interaction from the future.
The panel of judges, consisting of senior leadership at PwC, Chris Kennedy, Jennifer Bellin, and Joanna Swiski, provided their feedback to the teams. They appreciated the effort put in by the groups in such a short time and suggested improvements to each strategy.
The teams headed back to their team rooms to further innovate based on the feedback provided to them. The mentors, too, rolled their sleeves up and participated with fervor, getting as engaged as the participants.
Declaring the winner and sharing learnings
The next set of final presentations had teams present their finalized solutions, having incorporated the feedback from the mid-point presentations with tangible and implementable solutions. When the votes from the judges were in, the team, Foster5, was the winner. The group consisting of Chris Andrews, Xin Huang, James Dexter, Mike Baba, and Nate Carr, mentored by Jayant Gokhle.
The competition was fast-paced and had teams problem solve and critically analyze any upcoming challenges in the consulting industry. The participants gained a unique experience to discuss in their upcoming interviews and learned about consulting and case-based problem-solving as evidenced by this quote:
“I had a great team for this case competition and we had a meeting before the competition to get to know each other’s strengths and discuss about the general strategy for the competition. I enjoyed working with my teammates before and during the competition and believe the synergy we had was the key contributor to our win. I also like the way we presented; speaking without a presentation in front of a panel of PwC executives and receiving their insightful feedback. The interactive process makes the competition more like a great learning experience for me.”
The Foster School of Business continues to grow its presence and contribution to the consulting industry leveraging such strategic partnerships and events to provide its students with an experiential learning experience. Function-focused student-led clubs such as the Foster Consulting Society are instrumental in these efforts, giving students an opportunity to both organize and participate in such events leading to a well-rounded experience. Learn more about the various resources available to Foster MBA students though the Foster Consulting Society (FCS)