BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Competing at the IBM Technology Consulting Competition

Thursday, April 2, 2020
by William, CFM

My name is William and I am a 3A Computing and Financial Management (CFM) student at the University of Waterloo. In case you don’t know, the CFM program is a dual major between the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) and the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science—and I’ve always tried to explore both sides of my program equally.

The IBM Technology Consulting Competition was a perfect example of how being in SAF allowed me to explore an exciting and unique experience. The competition is the largest tech-focused and student-run case competition in Canada, and in the past, over 400 participants from schools across North America competed. Teams of up to four were presented with a challenge by our mystery client (revealed the day of), and we needed to come up with an innovative solution through the integration of IBM’s technology in only four hours.

I’ve attended other case competitions before, but this was the first in which I was advised by faculty members with industry experience—and this helped me prepare. As someone who wants to become a data engineer, many of my friends were confused about why I was taking time during co-op job hunting season for a case competition that on the surface would not impact my resume in any major way. My reasoning to friends was that I think case competitions are something that everyone should try at least once because it provided so much valuable experience that is applicable in the workplace. Skills like working within tight deadlines, processing information you are given to solve a problem, and ultimately presenting your results in front of a panel of judges are useful in no matter what field you’re in.

After all, life is just a series of cases, you just have to crack one at a time.