Taking home first prize at the inaugural NUS-SP Case Competition National segment

The inaugural NUS-SP Group Case Competition concluded 8 September, with NUS Business School undergraduates clinching the champion trophy for the National segment, and Queen’s University coming in first for the International segment.

BBA Year 2 James Nicholas shares his team’s experience after presenting to the top honchos of title sponsor SP (Singapore Power) Group in the finals.

Champions Team Quantum Strategy of the National segment of the NUS-SP Case Competition, together with the panel of judges from NUS Business School and Singapore Power Group

My team was dubbed Team Quantum Strategy, consisting BBA Year 2 students Stephanie Gunawan, Hew Qian Yu and Jasmine Kurniawan.

Throughout the competition, we were anticipating case studies that were closely related to SP Group’s business functions. So, the preliminary case, which was about Koufu (one of Singapore’s food courts) took us by surprise! Other than that, we were always on the lookout for what other teams have presented, and if we have missed anything out in our analysis, or if we had any points that we could improve on.

Team Quantum Strategy presenting at the National finals. From left: Jasmine Kurniawan, Hew Qian Yu, Stephanie Gunawan and James Nicholas

For the final case, it was about finding ways to increase SP Group’s revenue, given how the retail electricity scene is getting de-liberalised in 2018 where there will be more market competition. We approached the case with a strong emphasis on analysis. To us, no matter how innovative your recommendations are, a weak foundation will open up a lot of gaps in these recommendations, rendering it ineffective.

Our team spent most of our time working on the analysis before we moved on to brainstorming for recommendations and finally working on the financial and feasibility analysis of our strategy.

My team had participated in a couple of other local case competitions before. We felt this case competition was different, as it required us to gain an understanding of the electricity market in Singapore, which is quite unique from other industries. Being a highly regulated market, there are many restrictions and key considerations to be made, which will affect the overall analysis and recommendations put out.

Having the opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of case studies, our team felt like this case was extremely challenging because we had to to weave strategy, marketing, and operations related concepts into our pitch, all while making sure it aligns with SP Group’s organisational goals.

For the National segment, we only had 24 hours to crack the case. Time management was definitely a challenge, because three of us were concurrently involved in another case competition that only ended on the day that the NUS SP Group case was released. With time already taken up by a separate case study, we had less time to come up with a polished slide deck for presentation.

Intense competition among the 60 local teams for the NUS-SP Case Competition National segment

There was also a chance for us to submit some questions to SP Group prior, and a senior management of SP Group sat through a one hour live Q&A session on Facebook with participants. We had only one member at this session, so it was even more difficult for us to record information from the Q&A for further insights that you cannot get just from reading the case study. We were deadlocked multiple times trying to get a consensus for our analysis as there were many factors to consider. This added pressure as we saw the clock ticking.

However, it was well worth it! In my opinion, our team did well in providing a thorough analysis of the whole situation, while identifying key areas to focus on and linking them to our subsequent recommendations. Our pitch highlighted a key issue that SP Group was facing which was more competition in the energy sector. We proposed SP Group create a new unique value proposition that will open up new revenue streams by connecting retailers and consumers. Essentially leveraging and embracing the circumstance, and figuring out how to turn it to the company’s benefit.

Judges debating on the merits of the student pitches

We worked really hard to make our presentation deck polished, and in believing our analysis and recommendations despite the questions thrown to us by the judges. During the semi-finals, the judging panel didn’t consist any SP Group personnel, so the questions posed by judges also helped us refine what a third party felt about the recommendations. This definitely boosted our confidence in providing that overall strategy when we presented in the finals, where the judges included SP Group’s Managing Director, Mr Chuah Kee Heng and Head of Product Development and Projects, Mr Lawrence Lee, as well as NUS Business School professors, Prof Andrew Delios, head of the Strategy and Policy department and Dr Andreas Raharso of the Management and Organisation department.

I believe what set us apart was our ability to identify the key problems and how we can turn the tables with the solution. Also, we held on firmly to our strategy, and delivered the presentation with conviction. All in all, this case competition was definitely nerve-wrecking, and pushed us to think critically at all times.

Being able to clinch the champion title for NUS has been a surreal moment! My team feels that participating in case competitions not only provide intellectual stimulation, but also learning experiences when interacting corporate partners, forging new friendships, and creating memories of university life. It really is an experience like no other!

Top 3 teams of the NUS-SP Case Competition National segment, with the judges

We also believe that there is always room for improvement, and we will take the feedback from the judges seriously to improve on our case solving for future case competitions. Of course, all this would not have been possible if it weren’t for the support of our friends, family, and mentors who have provided their input. We would also like to thank SP Group and NUS Case Consulting Group for making this case competition possible.

Winners Queen’s University for the NUS-SP Case Competition International segment

16 participating universities for the NUS-SP Case Competition International segment

For more information on case competitions, please visit http://nuscasecompetition.com/.

 

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