The Global Case Competition with Harvard University

Tuesday, August 8, 2023
by Natasha

From challenge to experience:

Each year, the Global Case Competition at Harvard University attracts over 3,000 finance and business students from 100 universities across the world to present their financial valuation and strategy-backed recommendations to a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) case. 

This year, our team consisting of Ryan, Chiran, Zo, Zia, and myself were amongst this pool of students – representing the University of Waterloo. Each member of our team has a variety of work experience and skills which we leveraged to complete a 70-slide PowerPoint deck over a 3-week period. Our team had to shift to collaborating virtually through calls due to the restraints of being in different cities for co-op and school.  

The case prompt presented to us consisted of the question: “Should Siemens acquire Vestas?” 

Our team then came up with a 3-stage approach to this question: 

Stage 1: Collecting Research & Sharing Resources 

To start off, the team started by compiling any resources we could find on both companies, the industries they competed in, potential related industries, financial data for modelling, market share, and more. Since we were collaborating completely virtually throughout this competition, adding information to our shared drive allowed us to contribute and catch up on shared resources when our individual schedules allowed.  

We further scheduled calls so we could discuss our opinions on which direction we should recommend and why. This step was one of the most integral phases – it was important that we did not leave any page unturned to ensure we did not fail to consider certain components before moving to the next stage of our preparation. 

Our recommendation for this case would be to not pursue the acquisition, instead proposing an alternative investment: the company should instead invest in a partnership that focuses on a new product offering that enhances their current products and brings an advantage over their competitors, which presents lower risks than an acquisition.  

Stage 2: Conducting Interviews & Building the Recommendation 

Since our alternative recommendation drew on a lot of external research, it was important we took turns playing devil’s advocate to shed light to any unknown areas sooner rather than later.  

We decided to leverage our networks and reach out to experts familiar with the space the M&A case was in. By hopping on calls with knowledgeable investors and expert advisors working in companies like McKinsey and Blackrock, we were able to collect new perspectives on how to best present the recommendation and what to do more research on. By doing this, we were able to complete a lot of primary research and gain firsthand insight to the industry and how these advisors and investors would evaluate our decision. 

Stage 3: Receiving Feedback & Polishing Presentation 

As the deadline quickly approached, integrating feedback we received from mentors and looking after the formatting was our top priority. Considering the standalone PowerPoint deck was going to be judged during the first round of the competition, we wanted to ensure the deck would do a good job of painting a detailed picture and speak to the detailed analysis we had done on our own.  

In the end, our presentation had six main categories: Executive Summary, Industry Overview, Company Overview, Transaction Analysis, Alternative Solutions, and Conclusion, followed by an Appendix.  

With the help of experts in the field and with the support from the School of Accounting and Finance, we were able to put together a proposition we felt proud to present.