Top students compete for international title by developing innovative solutions to complex real-world business issues…

WINNERS TAKE ALL: The Australian National University was selected as the winner of 2013 KPMG International Case Competition (KICC) held recently in Madrid, Spain.

WINNERS TAKE ALL: The Australian National University was selected as the winner of 2013 KPMG International Case Competition (KICC) held recently in Madrid, Spain.

THE TEAM of students from the Australian National University has won the 2013 KPMG International Case Competition (KICC) held recently in Madrid, Spain.

The students will receive an all expenses paid, one week entrepreneurship training at Babson College in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. This award is presented in partnership with Banco Santander, a global multinational bank who collaborated with KPMG on this year’s event.

Now in its tenth year, KICC is one of the world’s largest case competitions and represents KPMG’s flagship student recruitment initiative. This year, KICC drew some 15,000 students from more than 400 universities in 23 countries to compete against each other in developing solutions to realistic business scenarios.

Window into real world

KICC offers an opportunity for students to experience the fast-paced world of casework, meet new people, improve their networking skills and develop a global mindset. Students also receive valuable feedback from KPMG leadership and get a window into the real world of business to understand the complexity KPMG professionals tackle every day.

This year, the final competing teams were asked to provide strategic advice to a global food organisation on the acquisition of a major snack brand. The challenge was to prepare a compelling set of recommendations and an engaging presentation for a panel of leaders from across KPMG’s global network.

After careful deliberation, the Australian National University was selected as the winner due to their innovative approach, insight into the subject matter, and the passion exhibited in their presentation. The team included, Olivia Kelly, Xinyu Ru, Vithiyasagar Sritharan and Aizaz Syed.

Team UAE at KICC 2013

Gayathri Thampi, Prakarsh Jain, Sagar Arya and Siddharth Kannan from S P Jain School of Global Management represented the UAE at the KPMG International Case Competition in Madrid.

We caught up with them to find out more about their experience.

Q. Tell us a little bit about the team and your future career goals…

Siddharth. K – “Our team is a mix of freshness and experience, a blend of core analysis and lateral thinking competencies; this enabled us to effectively hammer the nitty-gritty’s of the cases we solved. In terms of my road ahead, I would ideally like to work in a risk advisory role to observe and aid business decisions from close quarters. Consultancy has always fascinated me, and that’s where I see myself over the years.”

Prakarsh. J – “To define our team in one phrase I would say, we are the best combination that we could have made; A Mass Media Graduate, Financial Analyst, Sports Analyst and Chartered Accountant. This combination of analytical personnel and a brilliant communicator helped us crack the cases in tight time frames. My future goals are somewhat connected to the way KICC is set up, solving business problems with an end goal of increasing and sustaining the bottom-line of the organisation, that is, Consultancy!”

Gayathri. T – “Our team was a perfect combination of analytical and communication skills. We balanced each other’s shortcoming with our competencies which made us a winning combination. We have number crunchers and strategists; this helped us tackle business cases in a well-organised manner. My future goals are to leverage my learning from the case competition and to progress towards a career that challenges me analytically on a day to day basis. Being a management student with some amount of experience in NGO work in biodiversity, I found the sustainability dinner most intriguing and personally raised my interest in a career of this nature.”

Q. What was it like participating in the KPMG Ace the Case Competition in the UAE and winning?

Siddharth. K – “It was a surreal experience to participate in a national level competition and going up against the best case-crackers of UAE. The case and judges questions were very thought-provoking. Overall, it was a unique experience to win a national round in case analysis.”

Sagar. A – “Honestly, it all happened so quickly and there was barely time to let it settle. Although, we were confident about winning Ace the Case, we knew we hit the nail on the head with our analysis and it all worked out to be the best experience of my life.”

Prakarsh. J – “Ace the Case, was an unforgettable opportunity. From the very start in assessment day, which gave us the feel of how things are dealt with in the real world and then moving on to the competition to solve a particular situation – this overall provided a different perspective outside what’s taught in business institutions. Therefore winning the nationals and then representing the UAE was both unimaginable and still seems to be a dream.”

Gayathri. T – “In addition to the fun we had during Ace the Case, the learning from the regional finals to the training we received from KPMG professionals this has been priceless! Along with the opportunity of meeting so many people from different universities, the feedback received from the judges was extremely informative and helped us fine tune our professional skill sets, these are all benefits we’ll reap throughout our professional careers.”

Q. What did it feel like representing the UAE in an International competition?

Siddarth. K – “It was a proud moment for us as a team to be representing UAE at the global stage and indeed an honor to wear the badge of the nation and battle it out with the other countries on behalf of the UAE.”

Sagar. K – “It felt really good to represent a country such as the UAE. The world knows the quality business schools and institutions this region is home to, and to be the cream of the crowd from amongst these is something that makes me feel proud of our achievement.”

Prakarsh. J – “As an Indian, representing UAE, in Madrid, no more can attain this pride. Just winning nationals, changed the environment for me and the intrinsic satisfaction and motivation gained was a meaningful achievement. It was a matter of pride! Getting a chance to outdo so many aspiring teams and to get to Madrid was a much appreciated one.”

Q. What was the greatest benefit you derived from KICC?

Siddharth. K – “The sheer cultural immersion in terms of thought processes and ways of living provided a once in a lifetime experience of absorbing so many national specificities at once. It was a wonderful platform for exchange of ideas and ideals with such a diverse group of people.”

Prakarsh. J – “Definitely the learning imparted by leaders in feedback sessions, and the networking opportunity, Ace the Case to KICC has revolutionised my professional and personal network.”

Gayathri. T – “My professional network – Where else does one get a chance to meet students and professionals across 23 countries in one single room? Interacting with so many interesting people, different nationalities and diverse backgrounds was the best part.”

Q. What was the highlight of KICC for you?

Siddharth. K – “The highlight of KICC for me was the Sustainability dinner, where the conversation at the table covered almost every nation and notion of humankind! It was very humbling to see what the Cycle for Water project had achieved, and there was a general buzz of becoming better global citizens.”

Sagar. A – “Conquest of Madrid was by far the highlight. It was a 4-hour contest with trivia questions about Madrid’s cultural history. We were given a list of tourist locations to visit in a stipulated time period. That was the best way to go around the city and cross places off typical tourist must-sees!”

Gayathri. T – “The highlight for me was preparing presentations to the judging panel of KPMG partners. The professional setting gave us a taste of what the future holds. The challenging Q&A round prepares us for tackling such inevitable high-pressure business situations in the future, and the rigorous nature of the competition really put us to test.”

Q. What would be your message to others who want to participate in this competition in the future?

Siddarth. K – “Solve as many cases as possible, develop a well-rounded style of analysis and counter-argument, and don’t miss the forest for the trees!”

Sagar. A – “Firstly, go ahead and participate! The experience is something you can never get in a classroom. Take advantage of the chance to learn from KPMG professionals and diverse individuals, this is immensely beneficial. I conduct myself differently now thanks to the communications training received from KPMG throughout the preparation. It’s a life-changer.”

Prakarsh. J – “Give your hundred percent and there is nothing that can stop you. From forming teams to the presentation in the end, all of it will teach you something or the other. Take this opportunity and just give it your best. Results are not what is held by us, but determination is what can be done. Make the right combination, practice, gain insights provided by the experts and enjoy!”

Gayathri. T – “This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. An experience like this will benefit you professionally and personally. The people you meet will teach you a lot about schools, careers, diversity, and everything under the sun. KICC will set you apart from the others and in the true sense will teach you how KPMG or any other professional services company works.”

Commenting about the competition, Reyana Menzel, Head of Human Resources and Learning & Development – KPMG in the UAE said; “It was a great honor for KPMG UAE to participate in its second International Case Competition. The caliber of students KICC attracts year after year is definitive of the future leaders and entrepreneurs molded by top universities to excel in the corporate world. KPMG across the globe is in complete support of these academic strategies and welcomes the new generation.”

Michael Andrew, Global Chairman, KPMG International added; “We see the KPMG International Case Competition, as a natural extension of our commitment to learning and development. KICC places students at the heart of real business issues and simulates the difference KPMG professionals make to business and communities on a daily basis.”