Reflections on Competing in 3 Energy Case Competitions in 9 weeks

Reflections on Competing in 3 Energy Case Competitions in 9 weeks

Guest Blogger: Kelsey Sawyer

I came to Booth for its intellectual and collaborative culture, flexible curriculum, and academic leadership in energy (as throughout the University of Chicago). During the Autumn quarter, alongside ten peers and across three campuses, I got to experience it all while competing in energy-focused case competitions. To future Boothies – there’s no better way to kick off your program, and here’s why:

  1. You’ll meet and bond with brilliant peers who are also passionate about energy and sustainability.
    1. The Booth community is incredibly diverse, and this was evidenced by the vast array of backgrounds my teammates had, leading us to success. From petroleum engineering to portfolio management, each of our teammates offered perspectives needed to solve the complex problems we were asked to solve. Further, we empowered each other to build skills in new areas – for example, one former banker teammate helped another create a detailed financial model.
    2. Given Booth’s flexible curriculum, it can initially be difficult to find “your people.” But these competitions enabled me to bond with my teammates, who are now some of my closest friends! While in class or during school events, Boothies are able to meet with people who have a lot of organic shared interests.
    3. Several of the events allow for teams to be composed across graduate programs at the same school. I loved getting to work alongside my peers from the Harris School of Public Policy and leveraging the full UChicago intellectual horsepower!
  1. Competitions unlock unique networking opportunities, which is critical in such a  niche industry like energy.
    1. Industry experts served as our judges at each event. Their direct feedback through the competition accelerates your growth and learning, while networking opens doors for recruiting. In fact, several of us secured summer internships through contacts we met at these competitions!
    2. Outside of Boothies, competitions enable you to interact with other energy-passionate MBA students – potentially, your future co-workers,during your summer internship or beyond. 
  1. The case competition format enables you to ‘learn-by-doing’ and grapple with real-world problems that you’re likely to encounter as a leader in the energy sector.
    1. Decarbonization, global volatility, and challenges underpinning innovation are some of the massive, complex issues in energy that will require an “all hands on deck” effort from the industry. These competitions enabled us to experiment with how we would handle different problems across the sector – from the investor and operator lens.
    2. Your case competition work can be used to build a portfolio that you can share while recruiting, showcasing your interest in and knowledge of the industry. As a former consultant, this was incredibly helpful, given I could not share any of my previous work. 

Here’s an overview of some of the Booth Energy Group’s first-year teams, competition topics, and company judges:

At the Tuck Renewable Energy Finance Challenge, we were asked: how would you set up, and pitch, a private equity fund dedicated to cleantech? Judges from Marathon Capital, New Energy Capital, and Generate

Touring the beautiful October Tuck campus in between rounds

Capital Shock Absorbers – 1st place team from Booth at the 2022 Tuck REFC

Shown from left to right: Kelsey Sawyer, Ellie Hallenborg, Dipesh Chawla, Gwen Moore, Sahem Faruqi

At the McCombs National Energy Finance Challenge, we were asked: how would you balance carbon-intensity, geopolitical risk, and profitability as an upstream oil and gas operator? Judges from Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Nomura Greentech, Accenture, Phillips 66, Harvest Midstream/Hilcorp, Schlumberger, Lazard, Wells Fargo, Shell, and Tudor, Pickering, Holt, & Co.

Real Gas Act – 3rd place team from Booth at the 2022 UT NEFC

Shown from left to right: Jacky Zhang, Tatiana Kensoung Nguemo, Kelsey Sawyer, Nico Martinez

At the Chicago Shell Business Case Competition, we were asked: how can Shell accelerate its decarbonization strategy? Judges from Shell, Amberjack Capital, Tailwater Capital, EIG, and Outfitter Energy

Bend the Fuels – 1st place team from Booth/Harris at the 2022 Shell Business Case Competition 

Shown from left to right: Kelsey Sawyer, Evelyn Nie, Andrew Fraser (Zai Rutter not shown)

What’s around the corner? Now that recruiting has wrapped up for most, our first years are hoping to squeeze in a few more challenges, continuing practice their modeling, problem-solving, and presentation skills. We hope to see you at this year’s Kellogg Energy & Sustainability Case Competition (on the future of long-term duration energy storage) or at the Arvella ESG Engagement MBA Challenge. And we can’t wait to support next year’s 1Ys in their own competition adventures!