Building Connections and Connected Solutions

Building Connections and Connected Solutions

Each year, the Kilts Center for Marketing hosts a Marketing Case Competition, where students form teams and hone essential skills in marketing, management, and consulting. Students get hands-on experience in brand management by using consumer data to tackle a real-world marketing challenge for a sponsoring company.

This year, Whirlpool sponsored the competition, tasking groups with enhancing the company’s app for smart washers and dryers. On the presentation day, teams pitched their best ideas to Chicago Booth faculty and staff as well as to Whirlpool executives, including COO Joe Liotine, ’03, CFO Joe Lovechio, ’02, and Senior Marketing Manager, Laundry Strategy and Innovation, Heather Hellmuth, ’17.

Team Home 2.0, featuring members of Booth Class of 2023 Luke Birch, Sho Lin Chen, Mouad Ibno Bachir, and Lesley Ihionkhan, took home the top prize thanks to their deep understanding of met and unmet needs, their research of contemporary trends, and how they packaged the problem statement and their recommendations. Below, Lesley, Luke, and Sho detail their experience. For more about the Kilts Center and the annual Case Competition, click here.

The Opportunity

Luke: One of the great things about being a student at Booth is the abundance of experiential learning offerings at your fingertips. The Kilts Center’s annual marketing case competition is one of those awesome opportunities. In this year’s competition, students were tasked with devising an IoT strategy for Whirlpool’s smart washers and dryers.

Forming the Team

Lesley: We formed our team with little introduction to each other but a mutual desire to maximize hands-on learning experiences at Booth. As a first-year student, I was excited about the numerous opportunities to meet new people outside the classroom and our LEAD cohorts. I met Sho during an orientation event, and given our mutual interests in tech and marketing, we became intrigued by the competition as a way to reconnect with real client needs. Both Luke and Mouad shared our career interests in dissecting customer problems and ideating solutions, and our team was formed.

The Competition

Lesley: Our natural teamwork was evident from our first meeting, and it continued to strengthen throughout the competition. Surprisingly, my favorite parts of the experience were our late night working sessions. After the kick-off, we met five times throughout the week to dissect the data, ideate solutions, and iterate on our presentation. It was gratifying to produce thorough narratives and communication strategies, and I was continually impressed by our collective ability to challenge each other constructively and respectfully. Our encouraging and ambitious attitudes meant that no team member held back while proposing a new idea, and we had confidence that our team would appropriately support or challenge these ideas to produce the best results. I can confidently say that I’ve never been so happy to say “You’re right, I was wrong.”

Sho: The day of the final presentation, we gathered in the Gleacher Center for a final run through. Nervous energy and enthusiasm filled the air as we were equally excited to share our ideas as we were unsure our hours of work would be enough to differentiate us from all of the other bright minds in the competition. Our 20-minute presentation flew by in the blink of an eye and we were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. With four hours to kill before the awards ceremony, we made our way to Eataly for celebratory food and drinks. A riveting conversation ensued around NFTs, the future of human and technology interactions, and our diverse cultural experiences, though at no point did we discuss the very thing that had brought us together that day. Time seemed to fly by and before we knew it, it was time to return to Gleacher for the awards ceremony.

Luke: We had so much fun throughout the competition that winning was simply icing on the cake. After the ceremony we were able to network with the Whirlpool judges and the other teams over refreshments. Overall, the case competition allowed me to do exactly what I wanted to do at Booth: collaborate with a team of talented, diverse people to solve complex problems.

The Experience

Sho: What was unique about this case was the breadth of exposure to both physical and digital products, united by an underlying thread of deeply understanding the consumer journey and decision-making process. As valuable as this experience was, it’s just the beginning of the successful careers we hope to pursue in the product and marketing spaces. We are endlessly grateful to the Kilts Center as well as Whirlpool for making this incredible opportunity possible.