BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Differentiating ourselves at the IBM Technology Consulting Competition

Thursday, April 2, 2020
by Sabrina, AFM

Hey! My name is Sabrina, and I’m a third-year student in the Accounting and Financial Management program. The IBM Technology Consulting Competition is one of the numerous opportunities available to School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) students, and I decided to have a go at it with a couple of my friends!

The IBM Technology Consulting Competition is a large student-run case competition, and in the past, over 400 participants from schools across North America have competed. How it works: teams of up to 4 are presented with a challenge by a mystery client (revealed the day of) and need to come up with an innovative solution through the integration of IBM’s technology in only 4 hours.

The buzz of excitement when we heard about the competition led us to form a team. A few of us had already worked together as consultants through the ACE Consulting Group, and we brought on another friend from the Computing and Financial Management (CFM) program. Our diverse team was a unique asset that really helped us differentiate ourselves at the competition as we were able to leverage each other’s strengths to come up with a powerful solution.

The case we were given the day of the competition was definitely challenging. It required us to quickly think of a feasible yet creative strategy for a mid-size bank looking to expand their operations nationally (while including emerging fintech in our solution). The ramp-up after our ideation session was the real learning curve as we had only three more hours to put everything into a bulletproof plan. As everything happened in an accelerated pace we had to overcome roadblocks and make decisions on-the-fly. This was quite different from my past experience dealing with problems at school and work, where more time was given to analyze information for decision-making.

Back in my first-year, I shied away from case competitions because I wasn’t confident thinking on my feet—but as one of my mentors advised me, competitions are a great way to learn about a new business field and get out of my comfort zone. As you gain more experience from your co-op terms and courses, you are already prepped with all the technical knowledge you need to succeed.

Participating in case competitions in combination with my extracurriculars has guided me towards my current career path in consulting. Just like this case competition, every challenge along the way at SAF has helped me develop professionally to keep pursuing a career I’m passionate about.