Student Spotlight: Alexandra Kritikou

KMG Case Competition: A Winning Experience

By Alexandra Kritikou

On February 22, six teams of DePaul MBA and MS students participated in the Kellstadt Marketing Group Case Competition. This unique opportunity allowed students to apply concepts learned in class and develop a real business solution to a challenge by Cisco, a global leader in IT, networking, and cybersecurity. The goal of the competition was to give students real-world experience of business strategy development and proposal pitching to a panel of Cisco Executives.

My team “M.A.K.E IT” consisted of full-time MBA students with diverse backgrounds: Michelle Fronmuller, Kelly Kester, Edith De La Torre, and me (Alexandra Kritikou). Our journey began in January when we first got our case: Blockchain and IoT. Our first reaction was “What did we get ourselves into?” The concept was over our head. On top of that we had only two weeks to write our executive summary. But that was the challenge: to understand a difficult concept and create a business plan within a limited time frame. We said “Challenge accepted!”

Our approach was to do the best we could and learn as much as possible along the way. We asked our professors for help and we got in touch with Dr. Lamont Black, Professor in the Finance department at DePaul, and Jeff Wiand, President at DePaul Blockchain organization (DeBlock). They both helped us immensely by helping us understand the technology and giving us some technical and business background. After consulting with them, we narrowed down our research to an industry and things started to come along. It was a fun process too, as my teammates and I had many good laughs and inside jokes which helped lift our spirits. It was also very stressful: the tight deadline, our busy schedule with midterms, and the idea of pitching our idea to executives was nerve-wracking. I think having supportive teammates played a significant role – when any of us felt discouraged, the others would be encouraging and motivating.

The week leading up to the presentation was the hardest. We started writing our presentation two days before the presentation because we focused on the content rather than the PowerPoint itself. Our presentation was ready the night before, with all of us exhausted and in no mood to rehearse. We rehearsed Friday morning and gave it our best shot! After our presentation we all felt happy with ourselves and realized we had come a long way from hardly knowing anything about Blockchain to proposing a business plan. When the winning team was announced we could not believe it...we won! We were all thrilled!

All in all, we all found the case competition a unique and rewarding experience. My key takeaways from this experience are:

  1. Do your research!

    Although time is limited spend it researching

  2. Emphasize on the problem you are solving and spend less time on the solution.

    Back up the problem with statistics and show why it is a business opportunity

  3. Keep the presentation entertaining and practical.

    Tell a story and support your suggestions with some statistics

  4. Seek help from faculty and colleagues.

    You will be surprise how helpful and how willing people are to help out

  5. Trust and listen to your teammates.

    Be honest with your teammates about what you do not know and when you need help

  6. Talk it out with your teammates.

  7. If you understand something you can explain it. This really helped us breakdown the information and simplify it.