I did not expect to hear these words during my time at Yale SOM nor was I planning on spending the Thursday night of my Halloween weekend cooped up in a breakout room pouring over a PowerPoint with four of my peers until the early hours of the morning. Yet, there I was, in Evans Hall, at 11:30 pm, on Thursday, October 28th. We had just been selected as one of three finalists out of ten other student teams. It was time to roll up our sleeves.
Each year Yale SOM’s Net Impact chapter hosts a case competition in partnership with Deloitte. The event gathers SOM students in their first year to come up with creative solutions to a real-world business case within the realm of social impact. Students organize themselves into teams of four to five students and prepare recommendations on a tight timeline of four and a half hours. Participants are judged by second-year students on a range of factors and top finalists are chosen to present to senior-level Deloitte consultants. Finalists are provided targeted feedback and then have a few more hours to fine-tune a 15-minute presentation with 10 minutes of Q&A.
Our team consisted of myself, Victoria Bush, Will Gingold, Vikas Rajopal, and Ilina Yang. The five of us first-year MBA students decided to enter the competition on a whim, as a fun way of kicking off our Halloween and honing our business acumen in relation to social impact.
The competition was kicked off by members of Yale SOM’s Net Impact chapter and two recent SOM alums at Deloitte who set the stage and revealed the prompt. It featured one of SOM’s famous raw cases, titled “A Rare Disease Patient Registry: Determining a Structure that Inspires Trust”. No one in my group had any experience in healthcare, and, in true raw case fashion, we were initially overwhelmed by the amount of information provided. The ask for our ‘client’ was in three parts:
- Build the business case for a specific legal incorporation status that will be financially sustainable.
- Explain the human capital considerations of our decision.
- Balance our financial model with the cure-oriented mission of the organization.
What makes the Net Impact Case Competition unique is that all three points were weighed equally, with human capital and social impact considerations being judged as equally important as the business recommendation.
The following four and a half hours were spent in a breakout room with my team. We divvied up the prompt and assigned roles to our team members. Some of us would handle the business case, others the human capital and social impact portions. Due to the time crunch, we had to work effectively to address the prompt. As the clock ticked down, we organized our ideas into a PowerPoint presentation with particular emphasis on the logical flow and slide aesthetics. Our efforts paid off, and after submitting we were notified that we had advanced to the final round. We were provided targeted feedback on our deck and given a few more hours to fine-tune. The next day, we convened again in Evans Hall to present to Deloitte along with the other two finalist teams. The Deloitte senior consultants listened attentively to our presentations and asked thoughtful questions. After deliberating, the judges announced the winner. Our team’s efforts paid off, and we won the final round. Following the competition, all participants were invited to network with the Deloitte practitioners.
Overall, the event was an exciting and enriching exercise jampacked into a condensed, less-than-24-hour period. We learned how to work together in a pinch, examine business issues from different perspectives, and balance key priorities. Net Impact and Deloitte did a great job organizing the event and making it a worthwhile way to spend a (long) Thursday night. The case competition offered a glimpse into the sort of holistic positive impact we, as future Yale SOM alums, hope to have on both business and society.