A five-member team of MBA students from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth has won an entertainment case competition overcoming competition from media-specialty schools such as UCLA, USC, Columbia, and NYU.
The team received $4,000 in prize money and since the competition is mainly for students in the first year of the two-year full-time MBA program, a summer internship with the Paramount Studios.
Tuck MBA Team Wins Case Competition on Media & Entertainment
The Case Competition
The 2020 UCLA Anderson Center for MEMES MBA Entertainment Case Competition brings together teams of MBA students from top universities around the United States to analyze and present a solution to a real-world entertainment business problem.
According to the organisers, this competitive learning experience is intended to help participants gain exposure to real-life challenges in the media and entertainment space.
The competition on February 27, 2020, was part of the 11th annual UCLA Anderson Pulse Entertainment, Sports & Technology Conference. The conference took place the next day at the Luskin Conference Center.
Held in two rounds, the top teams from the first round moved on to compete in a final-round presentation. The winning team was selected by a blue-ribbon panel of media and entertainment senior executives.
Under the competition rules, each team could have three to five students. Only the first 20 teams to register and pay the registration fee were allotted a slot. No school was allowed to field more than two teams.
The participants were drawn from the full-time MBA programs. Those in the school’s fully employed programs were considered on a case-by-case basis.
The Tuck Team Spirit
The Tuck team comprised Keri Yildirim, Krishna Desai, Andrew Ho, Kwabena Nimo and Kyle Trehub. On arrival at the competition venue, they found the schools with media specializations in MBA such as UCLA Anderson, USC Marshall, Columbia, and NYU Stern—each had sent two teams. Harvard Business School also fielded two teams.
The team attributed their victory to their experience in the media industry and their shared passion for the topic. Keri has nine years of industry experience in entertainment, in the US and Turkey. Kyle, with a professional background in consulting, had worked in consumer goods and retail.
Krishna had worked with Snapchat and was Turner Sports Alum. Andrew Ho had worked with the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, was Afghan National Police Advisor (Consultant) among other posts. Kwabena, an InSITE Fellow, has work experience as Water resources Engineer, Senior Associate, Business Intelligence in his work profile.
Case Study Question: Where’s the Entertainment Industry Headed?
A week before the competition, each team received a two-part prompt to answer through a PowerPoint presentation. There was also a Q&A session on the day of the competition.
The teams were asked where they believe the entertainment industry is heading in the next five years and what Paramount should do now to prepare for it. They were given three options to choose from: 5G connectivity, interactive entertainment, or theatrical innovation.
Place Your Bet on Interactive Entertainment
Tuck team members placed their bet on interactive entertainment. They based their choice on the surging popularity of video games, which earn more annual revenue than traditional home entertainment. It has been growing by a larger margin for the past three years.
“We felt that audiences wanted some level of personalization and interactivity, which is something video games offer,” says Yildirim, who spent eight years at the Fox Networks Group (recently acquired by The Walt Disney Company) in Turkey. “It’s also something we’re seeing online.”
Each team had 10 minutes to argue their case, followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer session with the judges, who are executives at Paramount (up to the CFO level, and across functions from HR to casting).
Strategy and Teamwork Won the Day
After the Tuck team made it through the first round, the difficulty of the questions increased considerably. While most of the teams were relying on one team member to answer questions, the Tuck team differentiated itself by having all of its members offer different points and perspectives, says Yildrim.
“If Kyle gave an answer, I offered some of the background I knew,” she says, “or if Krishna had an answer, KB threw in a different perspective.”
That sort of collaboration was facilitated, Yildirim believes, by the unique Tuck core curriculum and its emphasis on teamwork. Before this competition, the five Tuck team members had never worked with each other, but they gelled quickly.
“Just being able to work really hard on a team with new people—the Tuck study group culture helped us push hard toward a goal,” she says.
In the end, the judges’ decision was nearly unanimous—something that has not happened before in the competition’s seven-year history.
“The win itself was a surprise since there were a few teams that we were all impressed by,” says Krishna. “When we heard the preamble to the announcement, we looked around, laughed and said ‘at least it was a fun trip to LA!’ But when they called our names, we all kind of looked at each other, super surprised, and made our way to the stage.”
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