Many universities and companies sponsor case competitions on campuses nationwide. These competitions typically range from business strategy case competitions to ‘hackathons’ (a pure coding competition). While both of these competitions evaluate a contestant’s problem solving abilities, neither of them evaluates a candidate’s technological prowess and business skills simultaneously. It is this combination of abilities that can separate an average technology consultant from the best. As a result, West Monroe has set out to develop a competition that tests students’ technical and business skills in a competitive yet entertaining and educational format.
Friday, March 6th marked the end of the 2014 West Monroe Partners Technology Case Competition, our third installment of this growing collegiate competition. The competition pitted teams of up to three undergraduate students against each other to solve a business case by designing, developing, and pitching a custom software application – an accelerated version of what our Application Development team might experience on a client engagement. This year’s competition involved three universities: Purdue University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and DePauw University. The competition first started at Purdue back in 2012, at the University of Illinois in 2013, and DePauw University this year. We hope to incorporate more schools as the competition continues to evolve.
Teams competed in an eight-hour case analysis and coding blitzkrieg at their respective universities. Members of West Monroe’s Technology & Advanced Analytics practice judged the teams across four different criteria:
- Business solution completeness
- Application functionality
- Ability to present the solution
- Overall solution uniqueness
Beyond these technical and business components, West Monroe was able to look for other key attributes needed in the ideal technology consultant. These attributes include things such as the ability to work on a team, the ability to deliver a solution within a confined timeframe, and the ability to prioritize application features.
The finalists from each school were then invited to our Chicago office to present their solutions to a panel of our Technology executives. During the two week period between the on-campus competition and the final presentation, the finalists were able to improve on their technical solutions as well as their presentations. The final presentation resembled a real software selection process that we commonly see on client engagements. The West Monroe Technology executives acted as key stakeholders for the case. The finalists were asked to give a sales presentation and a demo for the software applications they had built. The finalists were judged again across four categories:
- Consulting skills
- Application design
- Presentation skills
While the on-campus competition was focused on evaluating a contestant’s ability to develop a business and technical solution, the final presentation mainly tested the finalists’ soft skills. This format allowed West Monroe to first test a candidate’s solution development skills, and then evaluate their ability to persuade, enable, and empower a client to decide on the delivered solution.
The competition gave technology focused students an opportunity to showcase their problem solving and technological abilities, business acumen, and creativity. The students were able to practice these skills while competing for prizes. West Monroe focused on making this an educational experience for the students throughout the process. The Technology Case Competition has made a great impact on the advancement of campus recruiting at West Monroe.
Visit our web site to learn more about on campus recruiting.