Blog post

Looking back on the John Molson 2022 MBA e-ICC

John Molson MBA Q&A series
January 12, 2022
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By Chris Wise

John Molson MBA Q&A is a series of interview-style blogposts discussing the John Molson School of Business graduate programs experience from the perspective of current students, faculty and alumni.

After a hiatus in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the flagship annual John Molson MBA International Case Competition (ICC) has returned and was held from January 2 to 8, 2022, in a new virtual format and called the MBA e-ICC 

We have asked Nashit Vakil, this year's e-ICC Marketing Organizer, to find out more about this event and unique learning experience.

Nashit Vakil

First things first – please tell us more about you.

My name is Nashit Vakil and I was born in Mumbai, India. I have spent all my career in Digital Marketing. I started working in 2013 and, after gaining sufficient experience, I wanted to implement what I had learned into one of my business ideas. This led to my first start-up, Caffé Basket, an online café that delivers premium café products to customers’ doorstep. Its promotion was executed using multiple digital marketing strategies. Although an unsuccessful endeavor, my start-up was a great learning experience, showing me that I needed to re-evaluate and upgrade my skillset. An MBA was the next logical step for me to progress both professionally and personally. 

The reason I came to Montreal was quite simple: I came here for Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business, one of the best business schools in Canada. The John Molson MBA not only offers distinguished and high-quality courses, but also experiential learning opportunities such as the International Case Competition (ICC) and the Community Service Initiative.

Why did you decide to get involved with ICC and what is your current role as part of the Organizing Committee?

Apart from completing my courses, my goal was to gain hands-on experience by working for a club or a committee. When I learned that e-ICC 2022 was searching for its next organizers, I immediately applied for the Marketing Organizer position. The application was followed by an interview with the previous Marketing Organizer of 2021 and the director of ICC, Mr. Bill Meder. I was able to clear both interviews and become this year’s e-ICC Marketing Organizer.

In total, five organizers have been managing various aspects of the competition since March 2021 and three executive assistants (EAs) joined us in Fall 2021. The organizers are responsible for the following areas:  sponsorship, marketing, schools, volunteers and sustainability, judges, cases and events, logistics, budget, and IT. EAs assist with volunteers, judges, technology and logistics.

The 2022 John Molson e-ICC Organizing Committee The John Molson e-ICC Organizing Committee (L to R): Hiral Parekh, Medrick Santavicca, Himanshu Srivastava, Connor Farley, Melissa Koury, Dylan Pearson, Nashit Vakil, Ishpuneet Singh

There is an advisory board consisting of 19 highly successful industry representatives who guide the students throughout the e-ICC journey. Although the e-ICC is a completely student-run competition, Mr. Meder is involved actively from preparation until the end of the competition. He helps the organizing team find their way to approach the planning and execution.

As Marketing Organizer, I am responsible for strategizing the branding and promotion of e-ICC 2022: content creation for social media channels; execution of official communications on behalf of e-ICC 2022; creation of a detailed program booklet; promotion of sponsors; promotion of activities (such as volunteer recruitment and the case writing competition); as well as providing general assistance to the organizing team during the week of the competition.

Tell me more about the International Case Competition – what is the format and how does this competition differ from other case competitions around the world? 

Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business MBA International Case Competition is the oldest and largest event of its kind. Since its inception in 1982, this prestigious event continues to provide a unique and international networking experience for students, academics, and business executives. For the past 40 years, the organizers, volunteers, judges, and sponsors, have contributed to creating more than just a competition – it is an opportunity to innovate, connect and compete. Our stakeholders include approximately 210 MBA competitors and coaches from around the globe, 300 local business executives acting as judges, and over 400 student volunteers.

The event takes place during the first week of January and involves 6 days of events with 7 cases (including a live case), and numerous networking and social activities. 

Graduate-level business students from across the world participate in the competition, giving them the opportunity to network with their international peers while trying to win the grand prize of $10,000 CAD! High-quality cases are selected via the case writing competition and the event’s judges are carefully selected to ensure diversity. Our sponsors are some of the biggest names in their respective industries and many sponsors return every year because of the quality of students the competition attracts, and the excellent recruitment opportunities. For e-ICC 2022, sponsors included Bombardier, EDC, SuccessFinder, EY, CGI, CSL Behring, RBC, E2IP, SupremeX, KI HR, CN, PEAK, Alithya, Vacation Tracker and Meltwater.

The sheer scale at which ICC is organized and the number of stakeholders involved makes this event the most distinguished and the world’s largest MBA case competition of its kind!

How was it to organize this event during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Pandemic-related travel restrictions meant that we knew early on that all teams would be participating virtually from their respective countries. Hence, ICC was rebranded for this year as the John Molson School of Business MBA e-ICC 2022.

One of the biggest challenges was to manage the different time-zones where participants were located and to organize the competition fairly for all delegates. Judges and volunteers planned to be present throughout the event at Hotel Bonaventure in Montreal, Québec, where John Molson is located. All judges and volunteers were informed, trained and managed accordingly until December 2021.

Securing sponsorship monies, brand promotion, school recruitment, selection of cases, recruitment of volunteers, judges’ training, logistics, and finalization of technological vendors was all planned with the vision of executing the competition in a hybrid fashion. For more than nine months, our path was defined and we were predicting a more normal holiday season followed by an enthusiastic case competition for all stakeholders involved.

However, with less than two weeks before the start of the competition, further restrictions were put in place by the Quebec government due to the rapid spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. This new wave meant that judges and volunteers were hesitant to come to the hotel, and rightly so. This led us to shift the e-ICC 2022 from a hybrid model to a completely virtual model. For it to work, we had to retrain our volunteers and judges on the new workflow, move the career fair online, modify or cancel the vendor deals for various logistical requirements, and move every aspect of the competition online.

We followed all the guidelines set by the government and hotel, dividing the organizing team as follows: one team would be at the hotel overseeing the logistical requirements of the event management platform, as well as other technological arrangements, while the other team would be operating remotely and executing their assigned tasks. 

What followed was a phenomenal and hugely successful case competition! We are still getting emails and social media responses, especially via LinkedIn, on how the event lived up to its reputation. Participants were happy with the smooth and glitch-free virtual experience. Coaches were pleased with the quality of cases, and the fairness of the virtual judging experience. Judges were very satisfied with the overall approach and the high-quality presentations of the participating teams. The board of directors expressed how pleased they were with the overall execution and high-quality experience for everyone involved. Sponsors were swarmed at the virtual career fair, and were impressed by the overall caliber of potential candidates.

All the credit goes to the immensely adaptable, highly talented and hard-working organizing team and volunteers and, in sum, it was an incredible week for every stakeholder involved!

2022_John-Molson-e-ICC-Winners_940x492

Would you recommend this experience to any MBA? Why or why not?

On a personal level, this has been the best experience in my MBA program so far! I was able to meet and network with so many people. My problem-solving skills were tested and improved during planning and our team was able to actively solve issues and pivot the whole competition in response to the ever-changing pandemic. Executing a competition at such a scale idevelops soft skills such as communication, teamwork, adaptability, creativity, work ethic, and time management. These skills can only be obtained by experiential learning, which is provided by taking part in ICC. Additionally, the connections I have made during this competition will undoubtedly last for a very long time and I am sure that, whenever needed, we can lean on each other in the future.

As an international student, this experience was so enriching for me both on a personal and professional level. I would highly recommend anyone to become part of the ICC family and experience what it takes to successfully run this behemoth of a case competition.

 

For more information on the John Molson Full-time and Part-time MBA, visit our website. Then connect with a recruiter to ask a question or arrange a one-to-one meeting, or you can participate in one of our many online information sessions.

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