Stories and Advice from Winners of National Women’s Case Competition

Earlier this month, a UW team placed first in the National Women’s Case Competition, held at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. Team members Zarah Khan, Odmaa Munkhjargal, Yoojoo Lim, and Emily Kargl share their experiences and tips for success.

UT Competition team 2 image

The Case:

We were tasked with helping Shell develop a sustainable solution for the wastewater that is produced as a result of hydraulic fracking. My team developed a long-term solution involved a hydropower system that the water could run through while it was waiting to be treated for reuse in fracking. This helped solve the industry’s bottleneck of treating wastewater as fast as more was generated and created several distinct product lines that they could pursue moving forward. — Zarah Khan

Odmaa Munkhjargal:

“Representing Foster at UT Austin Women’s National Case Competition was truly a great experience. From exploring Austin, Texas and enjoying delicious BBQ to meeting other brilliant students from different schools around the US and listening to the great speakers at networking events, I truly enjoyed every bit of the experience.

In addition, the case was the most challenging, yet the most interesting case I have ever worked on for case competitions. We were tasked to provide a solution to a specific problem that Shell Corporation is currently facing. Due to the nature of the problem, we had to think like engineers but solve the problem from business students’ perspective. Thus, what I learned the most from this experience was that things may seem infeasible at first, but with the hard work and dedication, you can turn infeasible into feasible.

As cliché as it may sound, never giving up is key to success. Thus, to any student considering representing Foster at case competitions, I would like to say, “Do not be afraid to think outside the box! You have all the potential to make your wishes come true. Enjoy the experience and have fun along the way!”

Yoojoo Lim:

“The McCombs National Women’s Case Competition was an empowering experience, especially since we were able to present alongside other accomplished teams across the country about a male-dominated industry like oil. For the case, Shell asked us to come up with a solution on how they could reuse and recycle the water produced from their hydraulic fracking process to benefit the local community. Our recommendation centered around implementing a multi-step wastewater treatment facility to reduce the bottleneck in wastewater management and integrating a hydropower plant with the facility in order to efficiently use the wastewater waiting to be processed. Through this process, we rebuilt Shell’s business model to capitalize on three additional revenue streams: a service to treat wastewater, reselling treated water for fracking reuse, and giving the electricity back to the Texas grid.

Our team went through multiple case practices before the competition and placed first in the UW Consulting Challenge. Through the practice, we learned how to leverage our individual strengths and weaknesses to take a unique approach to each case. Our team is passionate about sustainability, which helped us be personally invested in this opportunity to work with Shell. Though this was a very technical case outside our comfort zone, we learned a lot about an industry we didn’t have exposure to before and are excited to see how the fracking industry is taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint.”

UT Competition

Zarah Khan:

“My experience preparing and participating in the UT Austin Women’s Leadership Case Competition was rigorous but worth it. My team dedicated hours outside of our regular school and work schedules to meet up and practice, months in advance. We treated every practice case like we were preparing for the actual competition and we actively sought feedback from UW and Foster staff and faculty on our solutions. This really helped us narrow down what to improve on as a team and we were able to create an effective game-plan for Austin.

The most important thing I learned from my experience practicing for the McCombs Women’s Case Competition was how to pay attention to details. My team had a thorough appendix slide to back up everything we presented on. This included in-depth financials, analysis of competitors, frameworks, etc. This made the judges more receptive to our idea because we had a slide to back up everything we pitched during our presentation which demonstrated how thoroughly we had thought about the case problem. We treated the case and our solution as if we were actually going to be pursuing the project we were proposing. For this reason, we were prepared for Q&A because we had already asked ourselves the hardest questions that we could see coming!

My suggestion to other UW students who are interested in participating in case competitions is to begin reading some practice cases from past competitions and brainstorming ideas on how you would solve them. Watching past presentation videos (available on the Foster website) to learn the style, method, and approach used by various groups is another proactive way to improve your case-solving skills. Be critical: put yourselves in the shoes of a company and really identify WHY they are looking for a solution to a problem and WHY your solution is the best option. I would say 60% of the competition is about your solution but the remaining 40% is about how you present it to focus on both areas! Preparing for case competitions is like practicing for a sport, you have to keep honing your skill.”

Emily Kargl:

“Participating in the National Women’s Case Competition at UT Austin has been one of my most rewarding experiences. My team and I prepared for several months leading up to the NWCC, and through the experience we developed excellent teamwork, time management, and strategic analysis skills.

The case competition was my first opportunity to represent Foster on a national level, and I am so thankful for the real-world business experience I have gained through my involvement in the case. The charge focused on developing a sustainability strategy for Shell regarding hydraulic fracturing and wastewater management. This was an excellent opportunity to research an industry that I was previously unfamiliar with, and connect with students from other universities.

I highly encourage students who are interested in case competitions to get involved at Foster! Whether you are participating in a case competition hosted at UW, or you are representing Foster at a national or international competition, you will gain great experience in project analysis and presentation skills.”