First-year MBA YaoYao Wang recently competed in a quantitative marketing case challenge sponsored by Booth’s Kilts Center for Marketing and Kraft Foods. It was a unique opportunity for YaoYao and her team to test out the marketing skills developed during their first quarter at Booth, and to engage with Booth alums at Kraft, who were very involved in making the competition a great experience for the participants. The case competition shows a number of Booth’s strengths – our analytical and data-driven approach to business problems, the deep and active alumni network represented in a variety of industries and functions, and the Kilts Center – which make Booth an incredible choice for anyone looking get into a career in marketing.
Booth is off for Winter Break for now. Enjoy the holidays, and stay tuned to The Booth Experience to learn more about what students do during break, including Ski Trip, career treks, and planning for Round 1 Admit Weekend!
As a first-year taking Marketing Strategy and recruiting for marketing internship roles, I was naturally drawn to Booth’s inaugural Kilts Quantitative Case Competition, sponsored by Kraft Foods. Since the Kilts Center for Marketing focuses on advancing marketing at Chicago Booth, this was a perfect fit. I appreciated how involved Kraft Foods got with the case competition; not only did they send three executives, including Deanie Elsner (’92), Chief Marketing Officer; Greg Guidotti, Senior Director of Marketing, Ready-to-Drink Beverages; and Triona Schmelter, Vice President of Marketing for Meals, to be judges, they also developed the case from a recent and very real business issue the company was facing with one of its major brands, Planters. Two Booth alumni and Kraft Senior Associate Brand Managers, Johnni Rodgers (’12) and Ketan Vaghani (’09), developed the case over the course of eight months using Nielsen data.
My team of five first-years was an unlikely assortment of Boothies hailing from several different backgrounds, including a former economic consultant, Peace Corps volunteer, researcher, engineer, and start-up enthusiast. We joined together to form Team A1. We were fortunate to be picked for the case competition, as only half of the 20 teams that applied were selected to participate. We attributed this initial success to our fun-filled PowerPoint presentation that highlighted our differences and complementarities as well as our fit with Kraft.
At the start of the competition, all 10 teams gathered at Harper to get more information about the case from the original case “Krafters” themselves, Johnni and Ketan. We were introduced to Kraft’s history and more importantly, that of Planters and Mr. Peanut. My team and I went home from the kick-off full of ideas and energy. Our first strategy? Stop by our local drugstore to browse the aisles, check out Planters’ direct and indirect competitors, and of course, pick up some Planters to snack on for the group brainstorm session.
The next few days passed by in a blur. In between classes, corporate events, study groups, and other case competitions (two of our members were involved in a Booth Business Solutions Group case project as well), we somehow found time to meet, discuss our findings and come up with a solution. By the time we presented our recommendations to the Kraft and Chicago Booth faculty judges three days later, we had learned much in that short time about marketing, Nielsen data, managerial decision-making, and strategy. Everybody in my team was invigorated by the fact that we had an opportunity to take a sneak peek into a real challenge that a huge Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company faces. We had been told countless times by recruiters, alumni and second-years that companies look for future employees who can deal with ambiguity, and we finally had a chance to practice. This wasn’t an in-class case where a professor would guide us in discussion to a particular solution, and it wasn’t a homework problem set where we would get the answers. We had to use limited data, analyze it, and come up with suggestions for future steps. That’s as real as it gets as an MBA student practicing critical business skills, and exactly the kind of problem solving that our Booth classes train us for.
Though my team did not win the competition, we felt that we gained a great deal through the experience. We were reminded once again of why we chose to apply to and attend Chicago Booth and why it is the right place for us. We were able to combine our quantitative and qualitative analytical skills and apply them to a real-world business. We were able to present our ideas to the real decision-makers at Kraft. We listened to Deanie Elsner’s words of wisdom, and were gratified to learn that she was impressed by everybody’s findings and mentioned that with the increasing importance of big data, it was a great time to be Chicago Booth students on the forefront of research designed to grapple with these kinds of high-level analytical problems. The Kilts Case Competition was simply unreal in terms of the level of learning, application of our classroom marketing knowledge to actual business problems, and teamwork and camaraderie we got to experience with our new classmates over the course of a few days.