For decades, The Ohio State University has invited teams from the Big 10 Conference to compete in the Fisher Invitational Case Competition. This year, I had the honor of representing the Wisconsin School of Business at the 31st Fisher Invitational in Columbus, Ohio. Over two days, my three teammates and I worked on a real problem posed by this year’s sponsoring business, Bath and Body Works. Competing against 5 other teams, our team comprised of four different specializations had 24 hours to research, refine and present recommendations to Bath and Body Works’ senior leadership at their headquarters.
This year was the first year that the competition wasn’t held on the OSU campus, and we were very fortunate to be able to spend the day in Bath and Body Works’ gorgeous space and to be hosted by a team of such warm and welcoming people. Not only was the competition judged by the leaders of the company, but they also made sure to introduce the students to top-level leaders like the CHRO. It was also interesting to be able to watch and learn from the presentations of the other teams. Of course, the free Bath and Body Works products we received was a nice perk as well.
The experience was incredible. It was fun. And stressful. And challenging. But most of all, it was deeply rewarding. There were many amazing highlights in the competition: the beautiful campus, the opportunity to meet different teams and get to know other MBA students, and the opportunity to visit Bath and Body Works’ beautiful corporate headquarters and network with incredibly welcoming senior stakeholders. Far and away, though, the most meaningful experience was being able to get to know my teammates better.
When you have twenty-four hours to pick apart a business problem and deliver a polished, professional presentation about what recommendations you think will address that problem, there’s a lot of pressure. Put four people in a room for over twelve hours straight and tensions can run high. Most importantly, you get a headlong view into your own flaws, whether that’s impatience, overthinking decisions, or micromanaging others; a great deal of personal growth can come from acknowledging these shortcomings and working to improve in the future. I certainly saw some places I could be better.
We went into the competition not really knowing what to expect. I’m sure my teammates all took their own learnings away from this experience. Of course, we all wanted to win, but what you take away from anything is often more than a win or a loss–there’s always a lesson. What did I take away from my experience at the “Big 10” Case Competition? That there’s room at the table for every voice, and that I should hold more grace for myself and others.