Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Winning Formula for GE's ECLP Midwest Case Competition

From left to right in black suits: Julia Wilcox, Lucky Agarwal, Brian Thacker, Rajarsi Mitra
After bringing home the first place trophy for the third year in a row, the GE ECLP Midwest Case Competition team reflects back on how they were able to prevail under the pressure of living up to everyone's expectations. 

Brian:  When we asked one of the judges for feedback following the announcement of our victory, he told us that even though our team didn't have the most creative proposal, he and the other judges were so impressed by the way we worked together as a team in articulating and presenting our idea that we clearly rose to the top.

Our team extended beyond the four immediate members that presented in South Bend. We received invaluable input from Adam Elkington and Britta Mueller, our 2nd-year advisers, and Matt Semadeni, our faculty adviser. Without their guidance our go-to-market strategy for GE’s Predictivity® line of integrated hardware and software solutions within the power management sector would not have come close to making the impact that it did on judges, all of whom were senior-level managers at GE. 

What I’ll remember most about this experience is the commitment that each member of our extended team demonstrated toward the success of this project and the way that our preparedness clearly came through to the judges during our presentation.  It was a perfect example of the Kelley Culture in action.  Each of us was extremely committed and it was very rewarding have those sacrifices acknowledged both by our peers and by the judges in South Bend.

Rajarsi: When our team was formed, it was selected by Kelleys at GE. Never having worked together before, we found that each one of us had diverse work experience and personalities. To top it all off we had to prepare this case during our final exams week. From the onset this looked like a roller coaster ride fraught with team members getting on each other’s nerves. But this is where Kelley Collaboration kicked in; each of us understood our teammates’ unique strengths and respected their opinions. The collaboration in this team wasn't just about being helpful and respectful to each other; it was about having our eyes on the prize. We were all brutally honest about each other’s ideas – especially as my team had to keep my increasingly crazy ideas grounded in reality!

I believe this is what sets Kelley’s Collaborative culture apart – it’s about helping each other but it’s also a mix of honesty, aggressiveness and purpose with it, often pushing each other out of comfort zones to achieve collective goals.

Julia: I was at first hesitant to apply for the GE Case Competition. As a former classical musician and small business owner, I was apprehensive about plunging so far outside my comfort zone to tackle a case about the Industrial Internet, a subject I knew little about. With the encouragement from Graduate Career Services and the 2nd-year GE intern from the previous summer, I finally decided to take the plunge and apply. When I heard that I had made the team, I was struck with both excitement and fear. I was excited to work with such a strong group while also fearful that I would not be able to contribute in a meaningful way.

Over the course of the two weeks working with Brian, Lucky, and Raj, I learned a valuable lesson about teamwork that I will carry with me throughout my professional career: when tackling complex and challenging problems, surround yourself with people who have very different skill-sets that you do. I’m a creative-minded, big picture thinker driven by brainstorming ideas and exploring new possibilities. To ground myself and force myself to think more tactically, I try to surround myself with people who can bring me down to earth - people who can provide balance to my broad strokes thought process. I could not have asked for a better team for this case competition. There was one thing for sure – our team was better together than we were apart. Brian brought a vision for the overarching themes of our recommendation and an eloquently spontaneous presentation style that was recognized by the judges. Raj was the deep-dive analyst. His ability to digest information quickly and succinctly is something I truly admired throughout working with him, and it proved essential in the Q&A at the end of our presentation. Lucky’s knowledge of technology and how it could be integrated into our recommendation gave us an edge and perspective on the case that we wouldn't have had otherwise. And looking back, I hope that in the eyes of my teammates, my contribution was as equally valuable as I felt their contributions were. 

Lucky: Raj and Brian alluded to how collaboration and
teamwork played an important part in our success. Looking back at GE case comp, there are few things that stands out for me. I would say it was the self-belief that made us confident about our strategy. This self-belief was an outcome of strong foundation laid by the Kelley Core curriculum that provides you with right tools and frameworks to solve any complex problem. The way the Core transforms you is phenomenal. I am sure everyone would attest to that. The other thing which played an important role was the BMA (Business Marketing Academy). The amount of effort Fred and Eric put in our professional development is noteworthy. Getting to talk to the GE Alums for one of the Academy Fridays before the case comp was a blessing in disguise. We got to learn so much about GE internal operations that it helped us in shaping our go to market and pricing strategy. In all participating in GE case was a lifetime experience and making it 3-Peat was icing on the cake. Devil Ducks Rocks!!

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