Tuck

IPADE Global Case Competition, Mexico, 2014

February 19, 2014 -- Guest post by Eric Sparks T'15 --

Exhausted, but happy.  What a whirlwind of a time the IPADE Global Case Competition was. 

Day One, February 6, 2014: My partner in crime, Christine Hou, and I departed Hanover at 3:30 on a very snowy Thursday morning to drive to the airport.  When we arrived in Mexico City, the driver from IPADE picked us up and drove us straight to the campus.  The festivities started with a tour of IPADE’s Mexico City campus and an opportunity to start meeting our fellow participants.  The campus is beautiful.  It’s centered around a 200 year old hacienda, all the pathways are roughhewn cobblestones (not great for the ladies in high heels), and they’ve done an admirable job maintaining a dignified, historic feel.  It was 75 degrees outside and the gardens were a delightful place to wander.  Unfortunately, we would have no time for wandering.  Deloitte and Novartis gave a presentation on their presence in Mexico, and we were introduced to our teams for the Case Competition.  The participants were truly a global bunch from India, China, Argentina, London, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.  My team was slightly shorthanded at only four people and consisted of a chap from Marshal USC and two from IPADE’s Monterrey campus.   We finally arrived back into our hotel for a late but delicious Mexican dinner and a 1 am bedtime.

Day Two, February 7: Up at six to depart for the campus.  Everyone was eager to start, but we were treated to a fantastic breakfast on the veranda.  IPADE’s treatment of us was truly first class.  We got the case after breakfast, and it was off to the races.  The case was for a Latin American Beverage company who operated primarily in Peru and Ecuador.  At the root of it, they were concerned about reducing assets tied up in working capital through an inefficient bottle return system.  There was a pretty massive amount of data, and a considerable amount of time was spent simply figuring out where to attack the problem.  The very diverse teams offered up some additional challenge and a lot of fantastic learning.  After a few dead ends, we finally ended up on the right path and came up with a fairly workable solution.  After far too many cups of coffee, far too much time staring at computer screens, and probably not enough time practicing the presentation we finished up at around 2am.  Back to the hotel and another very short night's sleep.

Day Three, February 8:  Decks were due by 8 am, and all eight teams presented after.  The judges were senior partners from Deloitte and managers from Novartis.  The presentation lasted fifteen minutes.  The judges then asked some very probing questions.  After all the teams finished up, the judges deliberated, and we were called back in for the award presentations.  Sadly, we didn’t win, but Christine’s team did, and so Tuck’s domination of the Global Case Competition continues for another year.  With the grueling work of the competition finally over, we had a short afternoon to explore the city.  Lunch on the patio overlooking the beautiful main plaza, exploring the 400 year old national cathedral, and exploring the streets of old Mexico.  The city buzzes with energy and color.  Fantastic.

Day Four, February 9:  Up at 5 am to return.  Back in Hanover at 10:30 pm.  It was a long travel day to cap off an exhausting and fulfilling trip.  I learned an incredible amount about working with a diverse group of people, and I feel grateful to have had this Mexican adventure.  Thanks to: the Tuck MBAPO, Tuck's Center for Global Business and Government, IPADE, the sponsors Novartis and Deloitte, Fermina Guitierrez Zamora, and Christine for an amazing time.  Salud, Eric.

(PICTURED ABOVE from left to right: Juan Alberto Autrieu – IPADE; Eric Sparks – T’15; Olga Gromakova – IPADE; Gavin Johnson – Marshal School of Business at USC)

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