By José María Francisco

“A total of 76 teams from the six business schools registered in the contest. Each team was provided the business case and given a little over a month to work on a report. Our team, CurIE Consulting, comprised Adriana López (MIM September 2012 intake), Maresuke Tanaka and myself (IMBA April 2012 intake). We worked over the Christmas break and submitted our presentation along with 56 other teams. In early February, we were happy to learn that we were among the six finalists selected to go to Novartis Spain’s head office in Barcelona. On the 21st of February, we took the Ave to Barcelona and went to a cocktail dinner to meet our fellow finalists as well as some members of Novartis Spain’s Executive Committee and HR team.

Left to right: Jose Maria Francisco (Philippines), Adriana López (Spain) and Maresuke Tanaka (Japan)

Left to right: Jose Maria Francisco (Philippines), Adriana López (Spain) and Maresuke Tanaka (Japan)

On the next day, after the welcome and final case presentation, we were given a couple of hours to finalize our presentation. Fueled by coffee and pastries, we got the job done and presented in front of the heads of Novartis Oncology and Novartis Pharmaceuticals, the Director of Human Resources and other managers in Marketing and Sales. I personally enjoyed the thrill of being able to answer the questions of the heads of Novartis during the Q&A portion of our presentation. As we left the presentation room, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. It was finally over.

During the awarding ceremony, the team from SDA Bocconi was selected third. For second place, our team was called. We couldn’t believe it! We met our fellow finalists the previous night and found out that they were all competent and highly-qualified. We felt that being a finalist was recognition enough, but we were going to get some prize money as well. More budget for travelling! And in case you were wondering, the team from London Business School was first.

Participating in the competition gave us the opportunity to apply the concepts and frameworks we’ve learned from school in an actual business situation. We got an all-expense paid trip to Barcelona, learned about an industry (pharmaceuticals) that was unfamiliar to us and left a good impression on key people within Novartis. In addition, we met students from other business schools and socialized with them after the competition. Most importantly, we enriched our knowledge and experience outside of school.

We recommend joining next year’s Novartis Masterminds Challenge or any other case competition that comes. You never know. You might form an excellent team, learn from the experience and actually win something. (Ka-ching!)”


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